The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) grew out of the self-help housing movement. The exhibition features the families and people who fought to turn vacant or neglected buildings into vibrant co-ops, as told through the photographs, newsletters, oral histories, and training manuals found in UHAB’s archive. Their stories illuminate the origins of New York City’s affordable housing cooperatives, and the work that residents put into saving and preserving the city’s housing stock, one building at a time. This exploration of a single organization’s archive offers one way to understand the people, policies, and programs that helped shape this history.
Decades after the homesteading and squatting movements took hold in NYC, there is a resurgent public interest in exploring cooperative ownership models, particularly as a tool for addressing the current housing affordability crisis. Building for Us honors both the vibrant history of cooperative housing in NYC and sheds light on the hard work and the community it takes to create and sustain cooperatively owned housing.