From “Gentrification” to Community Control: An exploration into urban restructuring in New York City
Discriminatory land use policies and the whims of global capital have stripped many low-income communities and people of colour from their ability to secure adequate housing. This has resulted in a deeply inequitable status quo that continues to shape cities through the displacement of these communities. In response, some groups have organized to gain control of land and capital in an attempt to reshape urban power dynamics to favour the needs of residents rather than the accumulation of capital. This portfolio explores the process of neighbourhood change and displacement, as well as the strategies and models that communities adopt to overcome the inequitable distribution of land and resources. In order to do so, the portfolio adopts a multi-scalar approach to analyzing urban change, community organizing and local control of land. The first component provides context for this research through a self-reflexive autoethnography exploring the connection between our individual choices and the broader socio-economic phenomenon of urban restructuring. The second component makes a case for the need for community control to mitigate the racially and socially unjust distribution of land, while proposing Community Land Trusts as a possible model for collective ownership of land and democratic decision-making. Finally, through the results of Community-Based Participatory Research with the New York City Community Land Initiative, the third component explores how regional coordination can serve to ground CLTs in a more democratic process for community control.