Defensive and expansionist struggles for housing justice:
120 years of community rights in New York City
Keywords: community rights, community control, tenants’ rights, displacement, gentrification
In struggles for dignified housing and greater agency, housing justice organizers often rely on an alternative valuation of urban space, based in community rights, which elevates the shared social value generated by residents over the market determined value of real estate. To parse the complexity of New York City’s contemporary housing landscape, this piece outlines a typology for categorizing housing justice struggles as defensive or expansionist. The contemporary use of community rights as an ideological and ethical framework for these struggles is historically informed by successive housing justice campaigns throughout the twentieth century. And the concept of community rights may evolve yet again, as housing justice organizers expand their fight across geographies and build bridges with broader economic and racial justice movements.