THURSDAY, MAY 4th / 5:30 – 8:00pm

Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium 

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center

66 Fifth Avenue, Room N 101, New York, NY


A trailblazing housing organizer and her diverse working class neighbors fight Robert Moses, the real estate industry and five mayors to create the first Community Land Trust in New York City — an oasis of permanently low-income housing in the heart of the rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side.

In 1959 New York City announced a “slum clearance plan” by Robert Moses that would displace 2,400 working-class and immigrant families and dozens of businesses from the Cooper Square section of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Guided by the belief that urban renewal should benefit – not displace – residents, a working mother named Frances Goldin and her neighbors formed the Cooper Square Committee (CSC) and launched a campaign to save the neighborhood. Over five decades, they fought politicians, developers, white flight, government abandonment, blight, violence, arson, drugs, and gentrification – cyclical forces that have destroyed so many working-class neighborhoods across the US. Through tenacious organizing and hundreds of community meetings, they not only held their ground but also developed a vision of community control. Fifty-three years later, they established the state’s first community land trust – a diverse, permanently affordable neighborhood in the heart of the “real estate capital of the world.”

Rabble Rousers: Frances Goldin and the Fight for Cooper Square is a documentary film produced by Kathryn Barnier (Producer, Director, Editor), Ryan Joseph (Producer, Director), and Kelly Anderson (Producer and Director). Its premiere was in late March 2023 in New York City. It is really a pleasure to present this masterful documentary film which has become a critical resource for understanding housing activism in cities across programs at The New School and beyond!


This panel will focus on the power of community organizing to gain control over land in a context of an unprecedented housing crisis. It will bring together residents, planners, scholars, and elected officials supporting the Community Land Trust movement through organizing and policy campaigns, such as the Community Land Act. These urgently-needed set of bills could give community land trusts (CLTs) and other alternative housing development models tools to develop and preserve permanently affordable housing, community and commercial spaces, and other critical needs. Its proposed measures seek to combat displacement of low-income New Yorkers while building collective wealth in Black, immigrant, and working-class communities.


Tom Angotti

Professor Emeritus of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, and member of the Board of Directors of the Cooper Square CLT. Angotti had served as Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development and collaborated in multiple community plans across the city.

Jessica Fielding

Vice-president, shareholder, and organizer of the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association II, and former member of the Board of Directors of the Cooper Square Community Land Trust. Fielding was born in a family of housing organizers and continues that legacy fighting to protect her neighbors, the Cooper Square community.

Marcela Mitaynes

Assemblymember representing Red Hook, Sunset Park and northern Bay Ridge. Mitaynes was instrumental in the passage of the historic Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 and recently introduced the Tenant Opportunity and Purchase Act (TOPA), a bill part of the Community Land Act.

Carlina Rivera

Council Member representing the 2nd Council District which includes the diverse neighborhoods of the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. Rivera serves on the City Council’s Land Use Committee. In this role, she introduced the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) in 2020 which today is central to the Community Land Act, a legislative package she is sponsoring.

Julie Won

Council Member representing the 26th Council District in Western Queens which covers the neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Astoria, and Woodside. Won is a sponsor of the Community Land Act and actively committed to creating and preserving low-income housing and protecting the communities she serves from gentrification.

Moderated by

Gabriela Rendón

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Community Development 


The Cooper Square Community Land Trust (CSCLT) is the oldest community land trust in New York City still in active operation. Born out of the struggles in the 1950s and 1960s against Robert Moses and his troubling urban renewal plans, they own and steward the land under 23 buildings in the Lower East Side in perpetuity. Their success has been possible through decades of political organizing and support from the local government. In a neighborhood with a rich immigrant history, they protect the homes, small businesses, and community spaces of the area they serve against land speculation and support the very fabric of a neighborhood where residents have been traditionally disenfranchised by disinvestment and, more recently, gentrification. Inspired by the know-how and ingenuity of the communities they serve, the Cooper Square Community Land Trust is committed to helping pass their wealth — both concrete and intangible — for the enjoyment of future generations.

Event organized by the Housing Justice Lab, in collaboration with Cooper Square Community Land Trust and the MS Design and Urban Ecologies program.