Homelessness & Vacancy

Homelessness & Vacancy: Master Interview List


Interview Subject: Brian McGrath in connection to Architectural League Vacant Lots program
1. What was your personal involvement with the Vacant Lots program?
2. How did the program address the temporality of “vacant lots?”
3. It says that “The study identified ten sites owned by the City in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn that were representative of the types of small abandoned lots proliferating in the city at the time, and that were considered realistic prospects for development.”
4. What was the process the team took to identify these lots? What is the criteria for a lot to be a “realistic prospect for development?
5. In the publications describing the Vacant Lots program, it has been said that there is “potential for “reweaving the fabric” torn up by disinvestment if not malign neglect.” Since it has now been 25 years since the beginning of this study, what is your perspective on the neighborhood of these sites after that span of time?
**Ask to get in contact with Mark Willis

Interview Subject: Troy Hannigan of Habitat for Humanity
1. How do you acquire property? How does property get donated?
2. What agencies do you generally work with to obtain a property to be developed?
3. How does Habitat for Humanity receive and manage funding from the federal government?
4. How does Habitat identify a site to be developed?
5. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia specifically, why would you say that the ideal model is renovation as opposed to new construction?
6. How long after a project is completed, do you continue to monitor them?
7. How have these projects affected the neighborhood?
8. Is there an ideal candidate for Habitat for Humanity? How are the families selected? How is the amount of sweat equity hours required determined?
9. How would you change how Habitat currently functions?


Interview Subject: Caroline Bauer of the Design Trust for Public Space
1. How did you become interested in writing about the Vacancy and homeless issue?
2. How do you see your interest in this topic relate/inform/aid what you do at The Design trust?
3. Since the Design Trust works directly in Public Space and the development of it, does the design trust have a position/idea or vision of how to influence or change or progress towards a homesteading future?


Interview Subject: Tom Angotti of Hunter Center for Community Planning
1. What is your definition of vacancy? What is – in your opinion – the city’s definition of vacancy?
2. How can this difference impact how the government or public perceives what is vacant space? How does this influence public policy? What kind of impression would this difference have upon the [speculative] real estate market works?
3. How do different types of owners of vacant property impact how that vacant property is assessed by the city?
4. By what methods could this vacancy issue be used to solve the homelessness problem? Is urban homesteading a model?
5. If urban homesteading is a strategy for a people’s acquisition of property, can this not also backfire? Couldn’t big real estate find a way to utilize urban homesteading for their own advantage – acquiring property without even having to spend money on purchasing it, merely enough to rehabilitate it?
6. If urban homesteading is implemented, how much attention do you believe HPD would pay to actually supporting it?
7. How did the city’s divestment of owned property influence the real estate market in the 1970’s? How much influence, if any, did the real estate industry have upon influencing this policy change? How has this altered the demography of the city?
8. How has property warehousing differed between Manhattan and the outer-boroughs?
9. Could this issue be exacerbated by differences in the effective taxation of these properties based on their borough?
10. Could a community land trust be achieved through urban homesteading of vacant spaces or lots? How hard would it be to attain this fate?




Interview Subject: Andres of Picture the Homeless
1. How do you today, picture the homeless? I.e. how has the image of homelessness shifted over the years especially with the downturn of the economy?
2. What population within the demographics of homelessness do you think has the skillset necessary for the concept of Urban Homesteading? [This would be a question after discussing the idea of UH]
3. How has funding cuts affected the homeless population especially with the discontinuation of programs such as the Advantage Program and section 8 funding cuts?
4. Why do you care about homelessness and how do you think you can effect change as an individual and organization as a whole?
5. Has there been a unique opportunity or idea that you have seen potential in -in line with your organization’s network- that has not been realized especially because of some bureaucratic barrier? Mention Intro 48


Interview Subject: Angel Vera of Make The Road
1. What do you think are the dynamics behind the vacancy in Bushwick? Why are there still so many vacancies? Who owns them and why are they not rented out?
2. How did you practically organize the mapping of vacancy in Bushwick of the ‘People Without Homes and Homes Without People’ report?
3. Do you think urban homesteading would be a valid option for the current context of gentrification and changes that are going on in Bushwick?
4. Which types of buildings and which areas of Bushwick would be easiest to use for urban homesteading?
5. What is the condition of these vacant properties regarding:
a) typology?
b) physical condition – renovation work that is needed?
c) ownership – possibilities in this respect?
5. Are there any particular vacant properties you know would be suited and could be available for an urban homesteading project? Or a way to track them down?