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Center for NYC Neighborhoods, DIVAS for Social Justice and The ABNY Foundation Announce Launch of Black Housing Project

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods (the Center), DIVAS for Social Justice (DIVAS) and The ABNY Foundation today announced the launch of the Black Housing Project, a collaborative youth-led multimedia history and storytelling project to highlight the diverse stories of Black homeowners across New York City, focusing on Southeast Queens and Northern Staten Island.

Approximately 60 students from ages 9-17 will create a multimedia storytelling project to highlight the city’s history of Black homeownership, through a variety of mediums including augmented reality, community journalism and short films, and feature interviews with community members. The final project is expected to be showcased at various locations throughout New York City and online to educate about the importance of Black homeownership.

The Black Housing Project is part of a broader Affordable Housing Youth Organizing Program taking place in Queens and Northern Staten Island, which has created a curriculum to educate the next generation of New Yorkers on housing history and topics such as redlining, gentrification, blockbusting and the subprime loan crisis. Various projects launched in May 2022, and topics will vary by age level:

  • Elementary School – Focus on instilling the idea of generational wealth early on at the elementary school level, with audio stories on what it means to have a home.
  • Middle School – Gather Black homeownership stories from Black homeowners in Laurelton, Queens and neighborhoods in Northern Staten Island that capture their homeownership journey.
  • High School – Look into challenges and history of Black Homeownership throughout New York City and capture this in a larger multimedia project through audio interviews, video and other storytelling techniques.

To further evolve the project, DIVAS for Social Justice is looking for homeowners, community stakeholders and civic leaders, particularly in Northern Staten Island, who have stories to share that will help encourage and empower communities of color to invest in homeownership. The voices of the existing community will ensure that generations of local residents will contribute to the importance of generational wealth through homeownership.

“In order to move systemic racism in housing toward economic justice, there must be a collective effort to educate the community,” said Clarisa James, Executive Director of DIVAS for Social Justice. “We are humbled and honored to produce a multimedia storytelling project that highlights the soul of the Black Housing Project originated from the Center for NYC Neighborhoods.”

“We are so excited to join with Divas for Social Justice and the ABNY Foundation in launching the Black Housing Project,” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “The curriculum we’re developing will allow students of all ages to enhance their first-hand knowledge of how public policy has shaped our neighborhoods, while uplifting the stories of Black homeownership in NYC, as told by their families and neighbors. Our youngest leaders are getting ready to build their own paths to intergenerational wealth, and I am thrilled to learn from this collaboration about how we can support them.”

“The ABNY Foundation is proud to support this innovative project, which utilizes multimedia channels to highlight the importance of homeownership in building wealth for many Americans but also exposes the barriers that many Black Americans have encountered, and still encounter, in their endeavors to purchase a home,” said Melva M. Miller, Chief Executive Officer of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY). “Consistent with the Foundation’s mission to support initiatives that enhance the quality of life in New York City, this project uses the lessons of the past to help inform a better future for all New Yorkers.”

The Black Housing Project is a direct result of a study that the Center for NYC Neighborhood’s Black Homeownership Project released last March. In it, the Center found that the number of Black homeowner households in NYC declined by 13 percent over the past 20 years due to unsustainable and predatory mortgage practices and skyrocketing prices. Additional five pilot programs resulting from this research will launch later this year. 

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