Bringing Supportive Housing Home at Living Room
May 2, 2012
Living Room: Housing Works Builds Housing. Photo: Alan Chin.
Last weekend (April 26-28), Gavin Browning and Karen Kubey curated Living Room: Housing Works Builds Housing, at the Metropolitan Pavilion. The installation was a powerful addition to Housing Works’ 2012 Design on a Dime Benefit and two-day public sale, with all proceeds going towards the soon-to-open 874 Jefferson Avenue Residence Project.
In January, Browning and Kubey approached Housing Works with the idea to create an installation that demonstrates and explores the housing and related services that have been created by the nonprofit for homeless individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS in New York City since 1990.
Guests visit Living Room during the 2012 Design on a Dime Benefit party. Photo: Karen Kubey.
Housing Works agreed to give Browning and Kubey a space at their Design on a Dime Benefit wherein to create their installation, a first for Housing Works for this traditionally interior design-focused event.
To most New Yorkers, Housing Works is best known for its robust network of unparalleled phenomenally amazing (really!!) thrift stores, chock full of lightly used designer clothes, housewares, and furniture. Few people seem to have connected the dots between the name and the services (other than hooking you up with amazing vintage clothes) that the organization offers.
Living Room allows visitors to see and tangibly understand the importance of supportive housing. Photo: Alan Chin.
Living Room is a full-scale, three-dimensionalized blueprint for one supportive-housing unit in the Keith D. Cylar House, the first of Housing Works’ ground-up developments, which opened in 1997. The installation also includes a timeline of HIV/AIDS infection and survival rates from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and key moments in the development of the supportive housing movement.
Timeline of key moments in the history of HIV/AIDS and in the development of the supportive housing movement. Graphic: MTWTF.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Housing Works has built over 170 units of permanent and transitional housing, and developed a robust network of support services. As the exhibition shows us, Housing Works has battled political hostility and indifference throughout its history.
In 1999, Housing Works successfully sued the City of New York, proving that Mayor Giuliani’s defunding of its programs were an act of “retaliatory intent” in response to the organization’s criticism of the administration’s HIV/AIDS policies.
In 2005, the City settled with Housing Works for $4.8 million. Since then, Housing Works has established 6 new housing and supportive service sites in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan, with an additional 330 units of housing proposed for the next five years.
With the help of some hot pink paint and ingenuity, this exhibition carefully and beautifully brings to life Housing Works’ crucial role in HIV/AIDS advocacy over the past three decades.
Living Room: Housing Works Builds Housing
April 27 and 28, 2012, at the Metropolitan Pavilion
Curated by Gavin Browning and Karen Kubey
Exhibition Design by Greta Hansen
Graphic Design by MTWTF (Glen Cummings, Aliza Dzik, Juan Astasio, and Jenna Kaminsky)
Production by Daniel Quinn