Picturing the Homeless, Building International Solidarities

Rob Robinson and Erin McElroy

Published in Issue 4.1 // Conversations

Keywords: Homelessness, international solidarity, New York City, organizing, policing


In this conversation, Rob Robinson shares reflections based upon decades of organizing and community building with tenants and homeless residents in New York City, as well as transnationally with groups based in Hungary, Brazil, Miami, Spain, and beyond. While Rob shares insights from his own experience being unhoused, he focuses upon ongoing work that he has been a part of since then with groups such as Picture the Homeless that have organized against the criminalization of homelessness. By discussing campaigns and actions that he has been a part of, Rob shares organizing tactics and theorizes the importance of civil disobedience and international solidarity. He also reflects upon the importance of learning and education, both regarding his work as a teacher but also as a lifelong student.


Rob Robinson is a formerly homeless community organizer and activist based in New York City. His work focuses on changing people’s fundamental relationship to land and housing. He works with social movements around the world including the Movement of People Affected by Dams in Brazil, the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil, Abahlali base Mjondolo in South Africa, and the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages in Spain. Rob is the USA- Canada Coordinator of International Alliance of Inhabitants, an alliance of 12,000 members worldwide which supports a Zero Evictions Platform. As a longtime member of the US Human Rights Network, his work is framed in international human rights law. In the US he works with communities on several social issues including, poverty and debt, police violence against the poor, gentrification and access to broadband. He is a regular guest lecturer at CUNY’s Graduate Center. He has lectured at several US law school human rights institutes, including University of Miami, Northeastern University Massachusetts, University of California at Berkeley and Harvard. Rob is currently an adjunct professor of Urbanism in the Design and Urban Ecology program at Parsons New School University.

Erin McElroy is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin focusing on intersections of property, eviction, technology, data, and empire in the US and Romania. Erin is also cofounder of the AEMP and is an editor of the Radical Housing Journal.

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