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When Tenants Claimed the CityThe Struggle for Citizenship in New York City Housing$
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Roberta Gold

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038181

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038181.001.0001

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“A Piece of Heaven in Hell”

“A Piece of Heaven in Hell”

Struggles in the Backlash Years

Chapter:
(p.242) 8 “A Piece of Heaven in Hell”
Source:
When Tenants Claimed the City
Author(s):

Roberta Gold

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038181.003.0009

This chapter examines how the tenant movement lost ground in the early 1970s, mainly due to witnessed recession and conservative backlash across the country, but made a remarkable recovery. It first considers the struggles in city and state legislatures over rent regulation and associated housing policies during the period before discussing the assaults on rent control instigated by propertied interests. It then explores how activists were able to fashion ideals from the late-sixties radical movements into tangible state-supported programs for tenant empowerment through limited-equity cooperatives. It also looks at how the new generation of activists helped to extend the tenant movement's lasting contributions to feminism and left politics. The chapter demonstrates the tenant movement's intergenerational ripple effect and the ways in which new programs, supported by well-placed professionals, extended the legacy of late-sixties radicalism by institutionalizing “sweat equity” and tenant control of housing. Together—if not always cooperatively—tenant activists preserved a modicum of security for working and middle-income New Yorkers in an era of neoliberalism and growing class division.

Keywords:   tenant movement, housing, rent control, tenant empowerment, limited-equity cooperatives, feminism, radicalism, sweat equity, tenant activists, neoliberalism

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