For Weeks 7 and 8, I followed Picture the Homeless @pthny, TenantsPAC @tenantspacny and NYC Mayor’s Office @NYCMayorsOffice. The New York City Housing Authority @NYCHA tweeted a youtube video of a New York 1 news piece about weather resistant generators being installed in public housing in the Rockaway section of Queens. This is significant considering that the Rockaways were severely effected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The primary rhetoric device in the piece was logos as it focused on the practical benefits of having weather resistant generators in public housing. @NYCMayorsOffice tweeted a public service announcement in the form of a poster that was made to look like “welcome home” place mat. I think that it was very effective in making public housing feel more “homey” to the public because when many people think of public housing they think of sterile living spaces that may not be worth saving.
For weeks 5 and 6, I followed 5 new Twitter accounts: @NYCHousing, @NYCHA, @NPR, @ShaunKing. and @Kirstentheodos. A few questions that I pondered when looking at the posts and exchanges on Twitter were: “What qualifies as a public space?” And what spaces need to be shared?” For example, @Kirstentheodos retweeted a story about developers wanting to raze a playground in the middle of a Manhattan public housing project to build an expensive high-rise apartment building. This is an example of an attempt to privatize a public space. Several of the accounts I followed retweeted a July 26th protest of New York State governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to put 300 million dollars worth of funding towards extravagant light shows on NYC’s bridges instead of spending it on badly needed subway repairs and upgrades. The presence of the protesters who stood on the street outside of the MTA Board meeting was a way of reminding those who work for the state (“public” figures), that they, the protesters also have input in the dialogue.
For weeks 3 and 4, I have been following several twitter accounts that tweet about New York City public housing, homelessness and gentrification. I’ve noticed that many of these are of non-profit organizations and individuals who work for them. None of these accounts are just commenting, but are fully involved in the work that they tweet about. Many are recording protests in real-time and interacting directly with policy makers.
Twitter coverage of the July 12th Tenant March in Washington, D.C. to protest the planned cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) brought to mind the situation in Kashmir where journalists were tweeting protests as mentioned in the Leo Marini article “Sorry Malcolm Gladwell, the revolution may well be tweeted”. Two days after the Tenant march, HUD issues has a press release on their website titled “HUD makes $2 Billion available to Local Homeless Programs”. This is not a concession by any means as it is still unclear how much of this $2 Billion would go towards permanent housing for the homeless, but it makes me believe that the tactics of community organizing groups like New York City Communities for Change, Banana Kelly and Urban Upbound are working.
The Housing Not Warehousing Act (promoted on twitter with the hashtag #housingnotwarehousing) is calling for the city to move away from funding homeless shelters and putting that money into permanent public housing. Though the hashtag #housingnotwarehousing has been in use since 2010, it didn’t catch on until this year, particularly after President Trump’s proposed budget was released. This is reminiscent of #blacklivesmatter mentioned in the “Beyond the Hashtag” article where the infamous hashtag did not become popular until after the Ferguson riots. In both cases, timing was very important.
The rhetoric on the issue of public housing on Twitter tends to be that of pathos, but I find it interesting when logos is also used to reach an audience that normally would not be interested in these causes. For example, there is a video piece called, “Housing Not Warehousing” by Marika Wolff which was included in a tweet by NYC public advocate Letitia James and has been shared throughout Twitter. Wolff is able to make a logical argument as to why it makes no sense to have so many vacant lots in a city that is heavily populated. I think that the way she makes the argument is interesting because she uses a homeless person to be the main narrator and tell his own story, rather than placing herself in the video as an “expert” and having the viewer see it through her lens.
The average New York City apartment currently rents for $3,109.
Between 400,000 and 600,000 of New York City’s 8.491 million people live in public housing projects, the largest public housing system in the United States.
President Donald Trump is planning to cut the budget for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development by 6 Billion dollars.
So, what does this mean to you, a college student, living in a dorm room in a rural New England town? Aren’t those who live in housing projects drains on the system? And should the worst happen, couldn’t these people move?
Although many of the world’s wealthiest people live in New York, many of its other residents live on $10 an hour in non-union jobs. They work at Chipotle and Shake Shack serving financial analysts on their lunch breaks. They are the ones cleaning the bathrooms at prestigious law offices and hotels that executives frequent on their business trips. As housing prices steadily increase all over New York, where would the people who work serve others at these places live?
It is not only the working poor who have problems affording rent in New York City, but the middle class. There are over over 1 million rent-stabilized privately-owned apartments in the city in which many people of median income occupy. This year, there will be a 1.25% increase in these rent-stabilized apartments after a 2 year rent-freeze. Many middle class residents who live in these apartments may see rent rise to the point where they will have to move to other Metropolises like Philadelphia and Boston, which will only further the gap between rich and poor in the city.
People look to New York to see where the the rest of the country is headed. New York City’s problem is a part of a larger problem with housing and will the large budget cuts that President Trump proposes to make in a time of economic uncertainty, could be devastating for millions of people.
One action you can take now is to sign two petitions calling on Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, not to go through with the planned cuts for the department:
Petition #1 by Miranda Becker: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/520/017/749/dont-cut-funding-for-public-housing-and-infrastructure/
Petition #2 by Mara Irwin: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/threat-for-hud-budget
You, Dartmouth students, are the future of this country and this world. In a few years, some of you may be in government or real estate and may have a direct impact the issue of affordable housing. The decisions you make now and in the next few years will affect many generations that follow you. So, make the right ones.