New York City’s perpetual housing crisis fuels a machine of ambitious affordable housing plans, nonprofit housing development programs, policy reform platforms, tenant protection campaigns, and academic research that saturate the city with new ideas and solutions to a seemingly intractable problem. Amidst this discourse of unsolvability surrounding the City’s profit-driven urbanization and real-estate market and privatizing housing policies, Black, Brown, immigrant, and working-class communities have formed movements of mutual care and aid and led political and social struggles to secure housing for their families, their neighbors, and their city. This project combines practices from the fields of storytelling, collective critical mapping, and community advocacy to affirm and elevate the individuals and communities that steward these movements. On the one hand, the project emphasizes the voices and stories at the center of Black and Brown housing struggles, community organizing efforts promoting housing justice, and collective visions leading to community-controlled and non-speculative forms of housing in New York City. On the other hand, in solidarity with these local efforts to advance social and spatial justice and in order to amplify and strengthen their work, the project intends to build long-lasting community-university relationships in support of public knowledge sharing and co-creation.

The Parsons Housing Justice Lab’s Oral History Project will realize these goals through three separate but interconnected phases and in close dialogue with narrators about their needs and vision. First, the team will co-design and conduct a student-faculty-community oral history project to compile individual voices and emphasize the powerful collective memories, views, and imaginaries that animate current struggles for housing justice in New York City. Second, we will develop a radical cartography from these narratives – an interactive spatial repository that connects these histories with images, maps, and knowledge-sharing tools, deepening our commitment to popular education within and beyond The New School. Third, we will disseminate these community advocacy outcomes and reflections to different audiences through publications and public discussions that promote cooperation and direct knowledge exchange. The online platform will be managed by the Housing Justice Lab.

This multi-year project has been developed by the Housing Justice Lab with the support of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility and Parsons School of Design at The New School. 


Principal Investigators: Gabriela Rendón, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Community Development, Mia Charlene White, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, and Kevin McQueen, Adjunct Professor Schools of Public Engagement.

Research Assistants: Jiray Avedisian, Parsons’ (MS) Design and Urban Ecologies candidate,  and Maria Llona Garcia, Schools of Public Engagement’s (MA) Creative Writing.