Red Hook Community Collective

With new condo development, the Innovation Studios, Thor Equities office complex, and the proposed BQX Streetcar on the horizon,Red Hook is poised for some big changes. The Red Hook Community Collective (RHCC) is an autonomous collective made up of local residents across economic rental models created to hold off gentrification, displacement, increase luxury housing, and overall rising prices affecting our community. Bringing together tenants living in NYCHA houses, rent-stabilized buildings, and nonprofit-owned developments, the collective emerged out of a series of five informational workshops on the topics of housing affordability and tenant rights, originally titled “Affordable Red Hook.” The RHCC is in the process of brainstorming how to educate and mobilize the community at large around issues of zoning, land use, and community participation in local development.

May 4th Workshop 1 at the Miccio Center: Tenants, Know Your Rights!

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This workshop kicked-off a series of educational info sessions intended to bring tenants in Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront together around issues of housing. While the first workshop focused on rights for rent-stabilized tenants, NYCHA tenants also joined into the conversation and drew parallels with their own experience living in NYCHA housing (ex: lack of repairs). Through an interactive game of Jeopardy, tenants learned from each other about rents, repairs, evictions, and deregulation.  The workshop was well-attended, with over 20 participants joining in for free homemade food (cooked by CGA’s Taiylor and Manon!), rights-based education, and connecting with neighbors. The rent-stabilized tenants at the event agreed to meet again to discuss issues in their buildings and strategize about how they can collectively support each other to stay in their homes. This led to the first meeting of the Southwest Brooklyn Tenant Union on May 25th, which will be meeting monthly.  

May 18th Workshop 2 at CGA: Finding Affordable Housing

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At this workshop, we discussed New York City’s housing crisis and the challenges of finding affordable housing. After a short presentation on the online housing search tool NYC Housing connect, each workshop participant received a character card (example below), and was invited to get on a computer and search for housing that would fit their character’s income and family requirements. Workshop participants concluded that not all “affordable housing” is truly affordable to all and that options are limited! This workshop was attended by 12 participants.

May 24th Workshop 3 at Community Justice Center: NYCHA Tenant Rights & Housing Court

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This workshop, facilitated by the Red Hook Community Justice Center, focused on NYCHA tenant rights and the Housing Court process. Through a fun game inspired by Family Feud, the workshop demystified intimidating housing court “jargon” to empower tenants to uphold their rights in court and learn more key processes for getting repairs done in their homes, succession rights, and more. The workshop was very well-thought out and interactive, but the turnout was low, which highlighted the need to boost outreach efforts in view of the last two upcoming workshops.

June 8th Workshop 4 at Red Hook Initiative: Mold in the Red Hook Houses

PanoramaRed Hook Initiative has been working with community partners, lawyers, and citywide activists to address the issue of mold in Red Hook Houses. This workshop brought forth the results of a neighborhood-wide survey project to collect data about mold in NYCHA apartments. The presence of mold in apartments can have a detrimental impact on tenants’ health, such as exacerbating asthma. The discussion highlighted how by organizing with your neighbors and staying informed, you can push for better living conditions in your community and hold those in power accountable.

June 23rd Film Screening at the Miccio Center: My Brooklyn

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My Brooklyn is a documentary about the gentrification and remaking of Downtown Brooklyn, particularly around Fulton Mall – an area historically known as a hotbed for hip-hop culture and a thriving commercial street for the African-American community. The documentary reveals the many players behind the “Downtown Brooklyn Plan,” revealing how this plan to “revitalize Downtown Brooklyn” was in fact a highly orchestrated process serving the interests of private developers, while displacing local residents and long-term businesses.

The screening was followed by a discussion on gentrification in Brooklyn and in Red Hook, and how we can organize as a community to make sure Red Hook develops according to the local community vision.