Building for Us: Stories of Homesteading and Cooperative Housing

UHAB is proud to announce our upcoming exhibit in collaboration with the Interference Archive in Brooklyn. Interference Archive is a volunteer-run library, gallery, and archive of historical materials related to social and political activism and movements with a mission to explore the relationship between cultural production and social movements. 

Exhibition Opening: October 17, 2019, 7-9pm

Exhibition Dates: October 17, 2019 to February 2, 2020

Print/Share this full program of free events with your friends and neighbors!

Over the past several months, UHAB and Interference have worked closely together poring over our archival materials: documents, photographs, policy papers, cookbooks (!), flyers, and more. We're excited to share this never-before seen archive with the public and celebrate the unique history of homesteading in New York City.

This exhibition, and the accompanying 64-page two-color catalog, chronicles the history of the movement and tells the stories of people who fought to turn vacant or neglected buildings into vibrant co-ops, as told through photographs, newsletters, training manuals and other materials found in UHAB’s archive. More than just an exhibition catalog, this publication acts as a resource to illustrate the history and how-to of cooperative housing. With fully bilingual (English-Spanish) text and a glossary, this publication features sections on sweat equity and homesteading, UHAB, training and education, TIL (the tenant interim lease program), and community building in the homestead movement. It includes approximately 30 reproductions of archival materials, including invitations to The Homesteader’s Ball, pages from the Homesteader’s Handbook / Manual del Inquilino, and pages from Cooking & Building: Lots of Tasty Recipes from the TIL/HDFC Community. 

 

Mail-order your copy of the "Building for Us" 64-page book today!

Contains the history of homesteading in NYC and 30 images from UHAB's archive.

To order your copy, email info@uhab.org with "Building for Us Book order" in the subject line. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the exibition's three month duration, we will be hosting programs and events open to the public. Check out the full calendar of events here, or visit UHAB's calendar page for event listings and registration links. 

 
 

About "Building For Us"

In the early 1970s, government disinvestment from neighborhoods in New York City, coupled with widespread landlord neglect and abandonment, gave rise to squatting, urban homesteading, and other forms of self-help housing. Residents took control of city-owned land and buildings, and developed or rehabilitated their own housing. The ultimate goal for many of the tenant associations in the self-help housing movements was to take their buildings out of the speculative housing market and own them collectively and democratically. Today, around 1,300 resident-controlled, low-income housing cooperatives exist in New York City, providing some of the most deeply affordable and stable housing in the city.

The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) grew out of the self-help housing movement. The exhibition features the families and people who fought to turn vacant or neglected buildings into vibrant co-ops, as told through the photographs, newsletters, oral histories, and training manuals found in UHAB’s archive. Their stories illuminate the origins of New York City’s affordable housing cooperatives, and the work that residents put into saving and preserving the city’s housing stock, one building at a time. This exploration of a single organization’s archive offers one way to understand the people, policies, and programs that helped shape this history.

Decades after the homesteading and squatting movements took hold in NYC, there is a resurgent public interest in exploring cooperative ownership models, particularly as a tool for addressing the current housing affordability crisis. Building for Us honors both the vibrant history of cooperative housing in NYC and sheds light on the hard work and the community it takes to create and sustain cooperatively owned housing.

 

"Construyendo Para Nosotros"

Al principio de los años 1970 desinversión en vecindarios de Nueva York por parte del gobierno, junto con descuido y abandono general por parte de propietarios dio lugar a ocupación de edificios, casa habitación, y otras modos de viviendas de autoayuda. Residentes tomaron control de terrenos y edificios que pertenecían a la ciudad, y desarrollaron o rehabilitaron viviendas por sí mismos. El objetivo último para muchos de los asociaciones de inquilinos en el movimiento de viviendas de autoayuda era quitar sus edificios del mercado especulativo de viviendas y poseerlos colectivamente y democráticamente. Hoy en día, alrededor de 1,300 cooperativos controlados por residentes de bajos ingresos existen en la ciudad de Nueva York, y ofrecen algunas de las viviendas más profundamente asequibles y estables en la ciudad. 

La junta de asistencia para la casa habitación urbana (UHAB) creció a través del movimiento de viviendas de autoayuda. Familias y personas quienes lucharon por convertir edificios vacíos o descuidados en cooperativas dinámicas figuran en la exhibición, presentado por medio de fotografías, publicaciones, historias orales y manuales de capacitación que se encuentren en el archivo de UHAB. Sus historias iluminan los orígenes de las cooperativas de viviendas asequibles en Nueva York, y el trabajo que dedicaron residentes a rescatar y preservar el inventario de edificios en la ciudad, un edificio a la vez. Esta exploración de un archivo de una organización individual ofrece una manera de entender las personas, políticas y programas que ayudaron a formar esta historia.  

Décadas después de que los movimientos de ocupación de edificios y casa habitación se establecieron en Nueva York, hay un resurgimiento de interés público en explorar modelos de propiedad cooperativa, particularmente como herramienta para abordar el crisis actual de asequibilidad de viviendas. Construyendo Para Nosotros honora la historia dinámica de viviendas cooperativas en Nueva York e ilumina el trabajo duro y la comunidad que sean necesarios para crear y sostener viviendas que son poseídas cooperativamente.