Building against vacancy : space, shelter, and support for LGBTQ homeless youth on double vacant lots in NYC
Author(s)Swerdlin, Joseph Michael.
Space, shelter, and support for LGBTQ homeless youth on double vacant lots in NYC
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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In this thesis, a building is designed on a New York City-owned vacant lot in Harlem to serve homeless LGBTQ youth. The City of New York maintains the condition of vacancy scattered throughout the five boroughs where, The Department of Housing Preservation and Development owns over 1,300 empty lots. While these spaces may be viewed as real estate opportunities, approximately a quarter of them are undesirable for development due to their small, Old Law size (25' x 112'). Further, an examination of the history of these lots should resist a reductive response to simply build market-rate housing. The vacancies are the result of strategic disinvestment through redlining practices. Historically, this has disproportionately impacted low-wealth communities of color. Today, these urban voids maintain the memory of displacement and destruction among these communities. Undesirable to their families, thousands of LGBTQ youth find themselves living on the streets. While seven percent of youth identify as LGBTQ in New York City, this minority community makes up over forty percent of the homeless youth population. One response to this crisis by the queer community-specifically within house-ball subculture-is the creation of "houses" where chosen families are formed. In these social structures, "mothers" and "fathers" serve as guardians for their "children," taking care of them through the myriad challenges faced by youth who identify along the gender and sexuality spectra. This organization is paired with contemporary practices in youth homeless shelters to rethink supportive services and housing for homeless youth. Building Against Vacancy imagines an architecture that transforms undesirable lots into viable, vibrant spaces for non-dominant forms of culture, expression, and living.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: M. Arch., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2019Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 146-151).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology