Women, Care, and Housing is a research-based design project which delves into cooperativism lead by women for the production of affordable housing in an increasing gentrified neighborhood in Brooklyn. This collaborative project was developed by students from the MS Design and Urban Ecologies program and Beyond Care, a socially responsible cooperative business led by immigrant women that provide childcare services in Brooklyn. In 2017 two coop members of Beyond Care started considering shared ownership to secure housing for their families in their neighborhood. Soon after other coop members sharing the same needs joined them to fulfill their vision. Following their coop principles of democracy, equality, and justice, they started working towards the establishment of a housing cooperative in Sunset Park, the neighborhood they have called home for over 20 years. Since then, they started collaborating with students from the MS Design and Urban Ecologies program developing research on housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and other community-controlled housing models.
As part of this project, a number of community workshops, activities, and discussions were organized in collaboration with Beyond Care members to work toward the design of a new model of cooperative housing for their families. The New Economy Project, the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, and Riseboro Community Partnership, were part of those conversations. The Center for Family Life, a long-time partner of Beyond Care, also contributed greatly with space for meetings and workshops.
Besides housing, this project also focused on the role of women in urban practices transforming communities. Students considered the leadership role of Beyond Care members in the community and worked closely with them throughout the semester. The outcome of this project included a participatory vacancy survey that assisted to identify potential properties to turn into cooperative housing and the design of a number of scenarios for the development of a housing cooperative in Sunset Park considering local plans, zoning, and available programs and funding opportunities for the implementation of such proposals.
MS Design and Urban Ecologies students also collaborated with Milano’s Community Development Finance Lab led by Prof. Kevin McQueen. A group of students from this lab worked on the financial models of the housing proposals and joined the DUE students in community meetings and other activities in Sunset Park.
Gabriela Rendón, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Community Development.
Ana Correa Do Lago
Mariana Kiwi Barros
Jacqueline Castañeda Nuñez