"Cities for People, Not for Profit": Gentrification and Housing Activism in Bushwick is an oral history project tracing the history of ongoing gentrification and subsequent fight for affordable housing in Bushwick, Brooklyn from the perspective of artists, activists, and community residents. Oral history can be used as an entry point to explore what Henri Lefebvre famously termed the citizen’s “right to the city” and to explore how these narratives can respond to rampant real estate growth and housing policy. The goal is to have these stories posted online alongside informative tools and resources to help activate the community, such as alternative housing strategies, locating activist organizations and fair housing efforts in the area. Ultimately, we want to seek effective ways to empower urban residents to contribute to greater urban democracy, using these stories to underscore the urgent need for politics in this city to prioritize housing that corresponds to the human social needs of the people of this city rather than to the capitalist profit-driven economy of the elite few. This will help ignite relationships amongst urban historians, policymakers and community activists, with the various groups being affected by gentrification in Bushwick in order to participate in real solutions with the community’s best interest in mind.


"Cities for People, Not for Profit": Gentrification and Housing Activism in Bushwick is supported by a grant from The City University of New York PSC-CUNY Research Award Program.

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If you currently or formerly lived and/or worked in Bushwick, and are interested in sharing your story with Cities for People, please contact Cynthia Tobar at latona28 [at] gmail.com to schedule an interview.


If you would like to help volunteer or intern to assist with ongoing interviews, please contact Cynthia Tobar at latona28 [at] gmail.com

Internships for academic credit can be arranged.



This project would not have been possible without the support I received from the Bushwick art and activist community at the initial stages of this project. Particularly Peter Hopkins, Jackie Cantwell and Wilson Duggan from Art Helix for their generous assistance in allowing me to collect interviews as a part of the Appalach-Wick exhibit.  Many thanks to Jose Lopez from Make the Road NY, thank you for welcoming me to MTRNY and permitting me to capture the stories of your wonderful community organizers. I would like to thank Tom Angotti and Nancy Mirabal for their advice on the early development stages of with this project. I would also like to thank Brigette Blood, Gabriela Rendon, Caitlin Cahill, and Chris Neville for helping me establish relationships with the various community organizations, networks, scholars and policy makers spearheading housing justice efforts in Bushwick.

Thanks to Perry Garvin, who smoothly implemented the overall site design throughout the duration of this project, and Ziggy Mintz for his technical advice and feedback in contributing our stories to the Bushwick Community Map. I also want to thank Melissa Garay for her help with video editing, and Rachel Torres for translating and subtitling our Spanish interviews.