Our research and project are about the housing issues and maintenance of the Red Hook Houses, the New York City Housing Authority’s second largest public housing project in the city. The vision is to create a repair-focused training system specific for NYCHA residents, guided and led by women. It would both create a path to care for basic housing issues in a faster and safer way and also provide the first part of basic repair and maintenance-related skills, which then can be pursued as vocational careers for those who are interested.
Repair Brigade for Women
Repair and maintenance at Red Hook, NYCHA
Team Project | 2019
For getting a deeper understanding of the issues in Red Hook NYCHA houses, we conducted open-ended interviews around the housing area, by using a map and a series of prompts we designed.
We firstly designed our questionnaire as different sizes of cardboard with various shapes to represent different housing problems including leaks, mold and peeling wall paint. With different sizes representing how long the residents had waited for responses from NYCHA, we could physically demonstrate the overall intensity level of the crisis. We planned to overlap all the shapes to create an installation which, as we envisioned, can also be a tool for pushing NYCHA to react more urgently to critical complaints.
Secondly, we set up a map where participants could not only roughly mark their locations, but also use two layers of color to mark:
1- what types of housing problems they have
2- whether they can repair it by themselves.
Insight 1: NYCHA’s Neglect
NYCHA is well-known for its lack of reaction, efficiency, and transparency. After finding housing problems, residents can report the situation to NYCHA by opening tickets. However, residents seldom got responses. Sometimes, despite the ticket being closed, NYCHA’s response did not actually address the issues in the complaint. Therefore, possible solutions for solving this matter must focus on pushing NYCHA to react actively; or disclosing another path to move round NYCHA.
Insight 2: Local Tendency of Self-Repair
Even though self-repair is prohibited, it was confirmed by both our interviews and Red Hook Justice Center that some residents do simple repairs at their house, in order to avoid these processes. These could be simple practices, like repainting their walls to prevent chipping paint and possibly lead content.
Insight 3: Women as main force on dealing with housing issues
Even though the demographic gender ratio of NYCHA population does not show female prevalence, 81% of housing issues are brought to the Justice Center by women.
Based on our research, we propose a vocational training program to provide knowledge and basic repair skills to Red Hook NYCHA residents, in order to support them in an informed repair practice as well as make resources accessible for all.
The purpose of this project is not to provide 24/7 maintenance, but to strengthen the resilience of NYCHA residents through making already-existing resources more visible and accessible. We also think these trainings might link to current discussions on right to repair and eventually encourage residents and NGOs to advocate for alternative systems within NYCHA. Residents who can take care of their surroundings and be involved in these decisions will feel a deeper belonging where they live as well. We expect our project can fill the gap caused by neglect.
| Value |
1. A safer and faster solution 2.Enhancing the resilience of the women 3. Providing childcare during the training
4. Feeling a deeper belonging to the community 5. Filling up the gap due by neglect