BUSHWICK: Participatory Mapping & Housing Workshop

Sunday,September 28th

On Sunday 9/28 I hope you will come out to collectively learn and think with us about our local land and our RIGHT TO HOUSING. Please come help us map our community together. We will be highlighting & tracking LOCAL: VACANT PROPERTIES, VACANT BUILDINGS, NEW DEVELOPMENTS, CONSTRUCTION, REAL ESTATE LISTINGS… North West Bushwick Community Group is excited to have the support of the New School, and for our partnership with Saint Joseph’s Church & The Silent Barn, to create this engaging opportunity on Sunday.

A Right to Housing, a gazette developed by students from the Design and Urban Ecologies Graduate Program (The New Shcool), has been envisioned as a tool to inform community members about the housing condition (and crisis) in New York City, and to propose community-based strategies to generate development without displacement in districts as Bushwick. At the event attendees will recieve A Right to Housing gazette. The 48 page publication illustrates some of the changes in the district, as well as relevant information about Bushwick, including a vacancy survey!

This mapping exercise documented all the vacancies of the district in the spring 2013. Since then some of these properties have been sold, developed, rehabilitated or demolished. Are the new units for people or profit? In order to track these changes a participatory mapping has been planned, JOIN US! we will also map new luxury developments, WE NEED YOU!

Afterwards, join us for an open house and cold drinks at The Silent Barn, a local art, music, and community Space. This is a great opportunity to explore our streets with neighbors, contribute to community data, and enjoy some of Bushwick’s Community spaces.

your neighbor,


Sunday,September 28th


(primera caminata / first walk)
Saint Joseph Church at Scalabrini Center
1080 Wiloughby Ave
Introducción / introduction
Caminata con vecinos / walk with neighbors

St. Joseph Church at Scalabrini Center
1080 Wiloughby Ave
Taller / workshop

(segunda caminata / second walk)
Saint Joseph Church at Scalabrini Center
1080 Wiloughby Ave
Introducción / introduction
Caminata con vecinos / walk with neighbors
OPEN HOUSE, Silent Barn!
603 Bushwick Avenue



A Right to Housing?
North-West Bushwick Community
St. Joseph Church
Silent Barn

gentrification – communication – dislocation

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 – Week 4:

Tom Angotti‘s New York for Sale outlines the importance of community and communication in the changing landscapes of real estate and urban landscapes. In many ways New York, here, acts like a case study for the global climate. The central theme that is outlined within the Chapter, and in much of the book, is the role of community in this shifting landscape. Some question(s) that it leads to is: How can the shift in community be defined and how does that definition re-engage with the city? Furthermore, these questions rely on three presumptuously under defined terms: gentrification, communication and dislocation.

Communication is the crux to understanding how these terms have redefined our engagement with the urban landscape and how we understand how gentrification and dislocation define the city. In 5 Things to do About Gentrification, Angotti speaks about the importance of communication to understanding how gentrification directly effects New York. Globally, however, communication takes on another role and meaning. As the global landscape becomes smaller and commerce shifts out on greater scales entire industries define new cities. This transnational city phenomenon has defined much of Asia’s development in the last few years. These cities build overnight, as if rolled out of a LEGO box, cannot communicate – community, culture, self-identity, etc. Langfang in the Hebei Provence of the Peoples Republic of China, lends itself as a case study for the redefinition of communication in the public-private partnership paradigm. While the private industrialization of this provence has established a “modern” city overnight, it’s lack of true public engagement has created a hollowed space. On this large scale, the privatization of the city has disassociated the entire public space as a another construct. So, how does the shifting space for communication re-define community?

Is that the cost of gentrification? Why do we often personalize gentrification? As a relatively new term it informs too much our understanding of the urban landscape, but does not actually hold the meaning for everyone affected by it. In cities, like New York and San Francisco gentrification directly defines how the city is reshaped within it’s borders, but what if those borders inflate and expand? Mexico City, DF in Mexico exemplifies how expansion assumes the privileges of technology’s new commute. Gentrification in Mexico City has redefined the core of the city as the blight; or in other words the shift here is not presumptuously where the opportunity is, but out to where land can be “owned.” This case study of the urban landscape is not limited to Mexico (expanded reading: The Endless City: The Urban Age Project by the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society [Ricky Burdett, Deyan Sudjic]) , but this sprawl is the the more commonly practiced side effect of gentrification than New York. This re-organization of the city and re-definition of the city lines also changes the assumptions of the private and public city line. While the city’s ownership attempts to pull residents into it’s center, it’s lack of organization and public interest leaves it in chaos.

This chaos is very different from desertion and dislocation. Cities like Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and New Delhi, where expansion is defining the re-population of suburbs is in direct contrast to not only London, San Francisco and New York, but moreover for cities of desertion like Camden, NJ and Detroit, MI. These cities represent how dislocation redefining the lines of gentrification. Here the shift in communication is re-defining re-engagement with the city. Detroit as a ghost city, while undefined, exemplifies how communities are defining the lines of public and private. In addition Detroit questions the third undeniable sphere of influence – governing authorities.

These “cities” local, national or global are defining these terms of engagement for the spaces we inhabit. How do we begin to identify with out new spaces? And what can we learn from our ghosts, ruins, and definitions?

RTC events

Right to the City UPCOMING EVENTS:

  • Wednesday, 9/10, 6-9pm, NY Area wide mobilizing meeting, New York Society for Ethical Culture 2 w 64th St
  • DASH Meeting – 9/11, 7pm Starr St Studios, 207 Starr St, Brooklyn
  • Friday, 9/12, meeting and at 7pm RTC Rooftop party, fundraiser and Artbuild, Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave Bklyn
  • Saturday, 9/13, 12-6pm, Artbuild, Mayday Space

Week 2 – Discussion Post

This weeks readings were useful in identifying both neighborhood issues in terms of property speculation, and tactics that can be implemented on a community organizing level to create or preserve long-term affordable housing in New York City. Land speculation is a topic that arises a lot in New York, especially in the Lower East Side, where some of the most successful organizing around affordable housing preservation has taken place with the Cooper Square Committee (CSC) and Rehab in Action to Improve Neighborhoods (RAIN) organizations.

These organizations were created by tenants who’ s rent controlled homes were being threatened by the predatory practices of profit-driven speculative landlords. These landlords seek to drive out rent stabilized tenants from a purchased building, renovate the spaces to break away from the rent stabilization agreement, then re-lease the spaces at market rate. Harriet Putterman, organizer and board member of the Cooper Sq. Committee states that land speculation follows a 3 stage pattern over the course of 6 months to 2 years.

The 3 Stage Pattern of Land Speculation

1. Acquisition: The speculative landlord tries to drive out existing tenants through aggressive tactics like creating fake ‘notices of non-renewal’ and other misinformation tactics to intimidate tenants who do not know their rights.

This is a crucial stage for tenants because the quicker people get organized, the better chance they have of keeping their homes. This is the stage where tenants can organize themselves or reach out to larger tenant organizations.

2. Renovation: Landlords aim to legally raise the rents above $2,500 so they can bring the units out of rent stabilization through costly renovation. Landlords often hire unlicensed workers, and implement aggressive tactics such as working inappropriate hours, tearing holes in walls, and compromising air quality in further attempts to drive tenants out.

There is a huge gap in tenant protection during this stage. Often, the HPD will not get involved with a claim against the landlord if the building is in a stage of mass construction; and the DOB, who is supposed to regulate construction issues, will not deal with tenant harassment. Successful claims can be filed with state Homes and Community (HCR) but is a complicated process that must be done early and with a fair amount of effort to achieve any results.

3. Management or Mismanagement: Speculators either manage the building long-term to build a portfolio, or sell the property. Managing speculative landlords are less likely to harass tenants. they are preoccupied with filling the units and moving on to other buildings. Mismanaging speculative landlords are usually understaffed and ineffective at managing a building. Harassment often continues at this stage, but organized tenants can take actions such as filing HP actions in housing court to demand repairs or better services.

As we saw in Furman Center’s Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP), 62,000 (27%) of the 233,900 unit affordable housing stock is no longer subject to affordability restrictions with many more slated to be removed from affordability programs in the near future. This is happening because many of the government affordable housing programs only last between 15-25 years. Very few programs create permanent affordable housing in the city. As a result, communities such as Cooper Square began to explore the idea of Community Land Trusts (CLT) to take their homes out of the speculation market, and create permanent affordable housing.

Rooted in the 1960’s civil rights movement, CLTs seek to create permanent affordability by separating ownership of the land from ownership of the buildings. A community based non-profit land trust seeks to acquire ownership of the land forever and leases the land to the MHA, while the buildings belong to a community mutual housing association who leases the property to tenants long term. In this way, the control of the housing stock belongs to the community operated organizations and removes the building from the mainstream market. CLTs such as the Cooper Square Land Trust have effectively created long-term affordability, but face many challenges in expanding such programs throughout the city. Finding ways to incentivize private property owners, and acquiring land in the over saturated real estate market of new York City are only a few of the challenges facing this model of housing.

For Class:

What are the necessary steps that can be taken by community members being faced with aggressive speculative tactics throughout the various stages and situations?

What are the challenges with the various existing models of city-backed affordable housing? How could the CLT model rethink affordability in the city, and how could such a neighborhood specific program work when applied city-wide?

See you all Wednesday!


Santiago + Michael


Intro – Week One

The readings for this week posed a basic overview of the current housing predicament, by presenting factual data and defining the types of affordable housing. The CUP booklet presents a detailed account of all the different types of affordable housing, including their history, budget, number of units and current status. The booklet is accompanied by an interactive toolkit, which allows community organizer to collaborate with an audience to physically map out the data, rendering it as a more tangible and relatable crisis. The Huffington post article presents a series of maps and graphs detailing the progression of rent and affordable housing in NYC. It leaves the viewer with a strong understanding of the dire situation many New Yorkers are faced with today. We thought the third article by Christine Cress on What is Service Learning, provided a more pedagogical thrust to the previous data driven articles. This pedagogical approach will help frame our in-class discussion.

We think it’s important to personally situate ourselves as part of a pedagogical approach to understanding the crisis of affordable housing and our role in possible solutions. Based on our personal experiences and after reading these articles, we have organized our progression of understanding as such:

1) predicament
2) news/media
3) data
4) visualization
5) interactive
6) service learning

Understanding the interplay of these 6 layers will allow us to formulate an action plan. For example, the Huffington post article would be considered mainstream media, which is readily consumable and presents easily accessible data. If we compare it to the CUP article, which is more pedagogical due to its interactive component, we can begin to qualify best practices in community based learning.

Is data visualization effective enough for collective learning? What is our role? (intentions)

When analyzing data driven material, it is important to step back from the collective generalization and celebrate areas of personal intentions and values. While data visualization is a useful tool it needs to present a keen awareness of specifications to avoid stigmatization. A designers, how can we find a balance between personal values and collective intentions? How does the visualization of data spur activism and create solidarity?

– Sinead & Monique