Public Housing in a Private Time: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and neoliberalism

Date and time

Thursday 5 December

6pm (GMT)


UCL Gower St., Pearson Building Exhibition Room, G07

Public Housing in a Private Time: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and neoliberalism

David Madden(Sociology, LSE)

Paul Watt(Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck, University of London)


David Madden (Sociology, LSE) on Public Housing in a Private Time: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) and neoliberalism



New York City has the largest and arguably most successful public housing program in the US, operated by NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority). While other US cities have demolished their public housing, NYCHA has maintained its public housing stock and largely resisted privatization; there has been no widespread redevelopment or “Right to Buy” in New York. But I argue that an examination of housing policies and neighborhood development in New York demonstrates that NYCHA has nonetheless undergone neoliberalization in various ways. New York’s public housing is, I argue, being reregulatedrecontextualized and decollectivized, such that it is becoming increasingly enmeshed with the politics of dispossession that is directed towards working class and poor New Yorkers. Drawing on ethnographic and historical data, I discuss the ways in which these processes have impact NYCHA’s tenants and the spaces in which they live, and conclude with an analysis of some of the contradictions of public housing in a privatizing time.

Paul Watt (Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck, University of London) on The Class Transformation of Public Housing in London: From Gentrification Buffer to State-led Gentrification



This presentation sets out a developmental and conceptual framework for understanding the shifting inter-connections between public (council) housing and gentrification in London. It argues that council housing played a key role as a buffer against gentrification in London during the 1960s-80s. During this period, certain inner London councils, notably Camden and Islington, used the municipalisation of private rental housing as a deliberate policy strategy to counter first-wave “pioneer” gentrification. However this buffer role has been diminished under neoliberalism. This occurred partly via the 1980 Right-to-Buy policy, but more recently by New Labour’s regeneration policies, including stock transfers to ‘not-for-profit’ housing associations, demolitions and the sale of estates/land to developers. Contemporary shifts in council housing can be considered as a key constituent part of third-wave, state-led gentrification in London. The presentation develops the notion of a ‘state-induced rent gap’ – whereby the physical public housing stock has been inadequately maintained while land values have risen. Finally, the presentation will examine how the transformation of public housing is negatively impacting on London’s low-income population and is thereby exacerbating social inequalities. The paper draws upon a range of data sources, including interviews with estate residents and young people living in temporary accommodation.



Further details TBA.