“The Politics of Real Estate” Students Examine Growth Machine Politics, Rent Control, Gentrification, Tenant Organizing in NYC and Hartford

Growth machine politics, rent control, gentrification, tenant organizing– In Dr. Emily Yen’s “The Politics of Real Estate” Community Learning course, students have been examining the political, social, and economic dimensions of real estate in Hartford and New York. Last week, they took a trip to New York City to learn about real estate development there and meet with a few Trinity College alumni involved in that work.

Their first stop was at the Vera Institute of Justice where they heard from Tyler Nims ’05 who is working on lobbying the New York City’s planning and zoning commissions to potentially close the Riker’s Island jail complex and reimagine the use of Riker’s island real estate. Students also met with Trustee Jeffrey Kelter ’76 who is working on real estate development projects in New York and Ezra Moser ’10 who is a City Planner for the City of New York. A gift from Jeremy Moser and Laura Kittle, parents of Ezra Moser ’10, helped to support this trip. The group was also joined by Sharon Zukin, Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, who spoke about the disparity in income and housing costs in NYC. Students were able to get another perspective on real estate in New York at their final stop, an apartment building recently built by Michael Fascitelli, father of Jack Fascitelli ’19, an Urban Studies major.


Here in Hartford Hartford, teams of students have brought in guest speakers to class such as Pastor AJ Johnson of Christian Activities Council who is organizing tenants in Clay Arsenal and other Hartford neighborhoods on the #NoMoreSlumlords campaign to demand better living conditions (See: “More HUD funded landlords kicked out of Hartford” and NBC Nightly News feature). The students also conducted and transcribed interviews with a variety community partners who are involved in various real estate issues in Hartford. The interviews covered a range of perspectives: the tenant organizers with Christian Activities Council, policy advocates at Open Communities Alliance and the Hartford Community Loan fund, neighborhood partnerships like SINA Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, and the Vornado Realty Trust.

Students will present the Community Learning component of their work on Thursday May 2nd at the Hartford Real Estate Research Symposium, from 5:30-8:00PM in the Dangremond Family Commons in Hallden Hall on Trinity’s campus. This event if free and open to the public, we just ask that you RSVP here: https://forms.gle/gk6cAjTMhwNv5kmD7


Photo credit to Gabby Nelson, Center for Urban and Global Studies.

At Trinity College we define Community Learning courses as those that include perspective taking and mutually beneficial relationships with community partners. If you are interested in building a Community Learning component into your course, or you believe your course should be designated  as a Community Learning course, contact Director of Community Learning Megan.Hartline@trincoll.edu