A Look inside the Stories of Public Housing

public housingWhat comes to mind when you think of public housing? Chances are, your impressions depend a lot on where and when you grew up. But in many cities, the news about public housing is dominated by stories of poverty and crime.

Writer Rico Washington and photographer Shina Yanagawa want to make sure we see the people, families and communities of public housing. In 2009, they launched a documentary project called, “We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] in Photos and Words.” Washington talked to Next City about the impetus for the project:

We understood—being that I came out of public housing and Shino lived for a time in public housing—that there were widely held myths about public housing, specifically blacks and Latinos that live in public housing. The range of pejorative myths and stereotypes go from the idea that everyone is raised in a single-parent household, to everyone being involved in illicit activity in one way or another, to people being overly dependent or abusive of public assistance. The list goes on and on.

Washington and Yanagawa interviewed 50 former and current NYCHA residents to tell the stories of determination and community empowerment that they experienced in public housing. Their project is now on display at the Brooklyn Historical Society, but you can see some of the photos here.


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