Over 400,000 people live in public housing in New York City. Together, they have the potential to form a powerful coalition of voices. But in 2009 Community Voices Heard, a member-based organization of low-income people including many residents of public housing, released a study finding that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) violated federal laws on public housing resident participation. CVH and its members wanted to improve NYCHA’s accountability and increase resident participation.

CUP worked with CVH staff and members, and designer Jeff Lai of Office of Jeff, to create We Are Public Housing. This issue of Making Policy Public breaks down the two paths to resident participation: NYCHA’s system of resident representation and the grassroots activism approach.

The first two panels unfold when CVH members share the information with tenants during door-knocking outreach. Residents can then take the pamphlets inside and unfold them further to find out more details about the systems of participation.

The poster side features examples of how people are getting involved, as well as the call to action: We Are Building Power!

You can get your own copy of the poster here.

Resources & Links

Community Voices Heard is a member organization of low-income people with experience on welfare, building power in New York City and State to improve the lives of our families and communities.

Office of Jeff is a design company started by Jeff Lai in 2004. Jeff and crew use collaboration and hands-on work to simplify the complicated and are drawn to approachable solutions using a bold practicality. They make animations, identities, websites, books, and illustrations, (among other things) for clients ranging from small non-profits to international conglomerates. 

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the Nathan Cummings Foundation; public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the North Star Fund; and the Union Square Awards, a project of the Tides Center.

Special Thanks

Valeria Mogilevich, Sam Holleran, Rebecca Roberts


  • CUP
  • Christine Gaspar
  • Mark Torrey
  • John Mangin
  • Community Voices Heard (CVH)
  • Advocacy Partner
  • Vincent Villano
  • Henry Serrano
  • Mo George
  • Sondra Youdelman
  • Agnes Martinez
  • Ann Valdez
  • Anne Washington
  • Gloria Wilson
  • Kflu Kflu
  • Office of Jeff
  • Designer
  • Jeff Lai