Monday, while many of us enjoyed the day off for Veterans Day, dozens of people got together to dialogue, brainstorm, and plan for the New York they’d like to see created. And this wasn’t a one-time-thing. Through a forum call Talking Transitions, New Yorkers are gathering together to address issues from drug policies to community art to property taxes. According to their website:
Talking Transition is an open conversation about the future of New York City. Join New Yorkers online, in the streets, and in a new meeting place on Canal Street to help shape the transition to a new mayor. The election may be over, but you can continue to make your voice, your question, your idea, and your neighborhood heard.
A few of us from UHAB attended yesterday’s panel and community conversation on affordable housing, organized by New York Communities for Change. Participants on the panel were people directly affected by various housing issues in the city: Someone currently living in the shelter system (from Picture the Homeless), a HASA tenant living in supportive housing (VOCAL-NY), and a woman in poor conditions facing harassment from her landlord (Make the Road Bushwick). After listening to powerful stories which tackle the crux of the housing issues in NYC, we, the audience, got a chance to collaboratively brainstorm ideas to change the system. The room was divided into subsections, each facilitated by a different organization specializing in the topic. The groups included: ending the homelessness crisis, preservation, and new development.
The UHABers at the event attended the inspiring group discussing Community Land Trusts, an exciting proposal to create permanently affordable housing and community controlled land. Basically, City Council would pass legislation allowing for the creating of a CLT, a nonprofit organization run by communities. The CLT would acquire land and the community would have control over how that land is developed and maintained. Our group, facilitated by Picture the Homeless, gave a popular-education style rundown of what community land trusts are and how folks could become involved with making it a reality. UHAB has been involved with the discussion of land trusts because we believe that neighborhoods and buildings should be controlled by those who live there. One way that the land trust could acquire land would be through coops opting to donate the land under them to the trust (not the building itself). UHAB, of course, has access to hundreds of HDFC’s who care about the preservation of affordable housing and community control.
Not only did we walk away inspired by the possibilities of a Community Land Trust, but we also were amazed at Talking Transitions and the power of intentionally coming together to envision a better New York. Check out more on the Community Land Trust Initiative here or here and Talking Transitions here.