Who owns social housing?

Who owns Social Housing? Social Housing Workshop @ Citygroup

104b Forsyth St., New York, NY 

April 8, 2024


Often, we think of mass social housing as something needing large entities—government agencies, philanthropies, or unions—to take on the profit-driven real estate sector. The history of New York City’s housing activism suggests otherwise, that tenants themselves are capable of leading the struggle for affordable and livable cities.

This event brings housing organizers into conversation with a historian of New York’s community housing movement to discuss TOPA (The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act). TOPA would give tenants an opportunity to buy their buildings at an assessed value, before they are sold as a speculative asset. This is critical to preserving affordability and building power in the housing movement. 

To workers in the building sector, TOPA and a strong tenants movement offer an alternative vision of how cities are designed. The discussion invites strategies for building support for TOPA in the building sector and imaginaries for a tenant led city. 

Facilitation by Michael Perles.


Benjamin Holtzman – Historian, author of The Long Crisis

Ernst Pierre, CLT Stewardship Coordinator at East New York CLT

Arielle Hersh – TOPA organizer, Director of Policy & New Projects at UHAB