This oral history project is dedicated to connecting the voices of all New Yorkers who have played a pivotal role in shaping the city’s history through their past and ongoing organizing efforts. It sheds light on the enduring struggles against redlining, predatory practices, rezoning processes, and environmental injustices that have disproportionately impacted Brown and Black communities for decades. Its primary objective is to amplify the voices, stories, and movements that have been instrumental in reshaping the way we live and interact within the city.

The project places a special emphasis on initiatives that utilize community organizing, cooperativism, and coalition building. These efforts not only confront profit-driven development, gentrification, and displacement but also collectively envision new policy platforms and development approaches. Lastly, to honor and preserve the voices of those involved in housing movements, this project visually represents the locations where these voices and stories have unfolded and make local narratives accessible to a broad audience through an interactive digital cartography that serves as a permanent archive.

The Housing Justice Oral History Project is carrying out these goals through the following interconnected actions and in close dialogue with narrators and communities:

1. Collaboratively designing and conducting localized oral history projects to gather individual voices and underscore the collective memories, perspectives, and visions that drive past and current struggles for social and spatial justice in New York City. 

2. Jointly developing an interactive repository that showcases these narratives with multimedia content, including images, audio recordings, and popular education tools. Integrating a critical cartography, this repository is intended to visualize and connect the various practices dedicated to housing justice throughout the city.

3. Disseminating the oral history projects to diverse audiences through community discussions and events that encourage cooperation and the exchange of knowledge.


Cooper Square Community Land Trust Oral History Project by Gabriela Rendón and students from different disciplines from The New School.

Voces Ciudadanas Oral History Project by Gabriela Rendón and students from the MS Design and Urban Ecologies Program Class of 2024

Sunset Park Is Not For Sale Oral History Project by Gabriela Rendón and Xavier Moysén Alvarez


Picture the Homeless Oral History Project by Lynn Lewis

Cities For People, Not For Profit Oral History Project by Cynthia Tobar in collaboration with Housing Justice Oral History Project, Ant-Eviction Mapping Project, Bushwick Housing Independence Project, and MS Design and Urban Ecologies Program Class of 2025

From the Ground Up by Phillip Norman

Community Action for Safe Apartments Oral History Project by Diana Zacca Thomaz


We are working on the Housing Justice Oral History Project‘s online platform. This repository assembles and bridges multiple oral history projects based in New York City. You can access the recordings and the transcriptions of the interviews of past and ongoing oral history projects for educational, research, and organizing purposes.


You can get involved in the Housing Justice Oral History Project as an interviewer or as a narrator. More than being interested in assembling narratives, we intend to build relationships. We seek to work closely with a group, association, or organization for a period to build rapport and to decide how to tell and visualize the narratives collaboratively. We intend to build trust that might evolve into a one-time collaboration or a long-term partnership with Parsons Housing Justice Lab (HJL) involving community advocacy and public education programs.


If you are an oral historian, scholar, or community leader working closely with a tenant association, housing cooperative, mutual housing association, community land trust, community-based organization, neighborhood initiative, or any other group organizing for housing justice and are either interested in or currently involved in conducting an oral history with such a group, there are different ways to collaborate with us and include your work in our online repository. Please fill out the following form to provide more information about yourself and your oral history project: HOUSING JUSTICE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT CONTRIBUTION FORM


If you are an undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate student or a researcher actively engaged in housing or urban studies, either at The New School or beyond, and you are interested in contributing to the ongoing oral history projects to gain experience in designing, conducting, and disseminating oral history projects, please fill out this form: HOUSING JUSTICE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT INTERNSHIP FORM


Through this work, we also aim to develop a framework for conducting oral histories that other institutions, researchers, and movements can learn from when designing their own projects. We are available and interested in mutual learning and supporting your work toward designing and conducting oral history, building interview skills and protocols, and developing ethical community and institutional processes. All involvement in this project, whether as interviewer or narrator, is conditioned on mutual respect and grounded in an ethical orientation towards co-creation, personal agency, and collective care.

This project involves communities marginalized by New York City’s housing system and whose activism increases their vulnerability to surveillance, policing, or landlord harassment. Thus, ensuring the safe participation of all individuals, groups, and communities is at the heart of our work. All team members are committed to a working framework that acknowledges ethical protocols and refuses any action that may increase the risk of involvement for any narrator. We see this as an opportunity to get creative with how narrators can participate in and shape this oral history. We also center the expertise and authority of narrators on developing risk mitigation strategies and designing modes of participation that directly support the safety and success of themselves and their communities. As in any oral history project, narrators retain the right to withdraw from the oral history at any point.


Please don’t hesitate to contact us: housingjustice@newschool.edu


Director, Project Coordination and Development

Gabriela Rendón, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Community Development

Project Advise, Training, and Development

Lynn Lewis, oral historian, educator, community organizer, and Adjunct Professor

Online Platform and Repository Development

Eric Brelsford, web developer and Adjunct Professor

Research Assistant

Xavier Moysén Alvarez, PhD Sociology Candidate


Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility

School of Design Strategies