Author and journalist Alyssa Katz will serve as the Jack Newfield Professor at Hunter College in the spring semester, offering a course titled “Who Owns Public Housing?”
The class will employ first-person interviews, intensive document research, and an extensive use of old-fashioned shoe leather to take stock of the public housing system as it weathers the severest challenges it has ever faced.
Students will work individually and in teams to prepare a series of articles for the Newfield website and neighborhood and citywide publications, exploring such issues as:
- the increasing segregation of New York City’s poor into public housing, and how this affects life in the projects and the city as a whole;
- the ways in which developers and contractors have turned housing subsidies and management contracts into big business;
- the low representation of immigrants in public housing and the struggles of new arrivals to get access to it;
- crime and law enforcement in and around public housing, and the tensions between preserving public safety and civil liberties.
Katz is the author of Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us about the explosive combination of Washington politics and Wall Street greed that created the housing bubble and mortgage crisis. The former editor of City Limits magazine, she writes for The American Prospect, The Big Money, Salon, Housing Watch, Mother Jones, The Nation and other publications.
Inaugurated in 2006, the Jack Newfield professorship honors the legendary reporter and Hunter graduate by bringing a distinguished journalist to teach at Hunter each year. Previous Newfield Professors have been Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins of the Village Voice, film-maker Charles Stuart and Daily News columnist Errol Lewis.