Hundreds of acres of vacant public land are hidden in plain sight behind chain-link fences in New York City, concentrated in neighborhoods disproportionately deprived of beneficial land uses. These vacant lots collect garbage, much like the privately owned lots being warehoused in those same neighborhoods, waiting for the economy to make them profitable. 596 Acres is building the tools for communities to open all these rusty fences and the opportunities within them to improve the areas they live in. In response to a steady stream of inquiries, in 2013 we expanded our work to support communities organizing for control of warehoused private land.
596 Acres creates tools to help neighbors find the lot in their lives by:
(1) making municipal information available online and on the ground (e.g. by placing signs on vacant public land that explain a lot’s status and steps that the community can take to be able to use this land); (2) providing education about city government and ways to participate in decisions that shape neighborhoods;
(3) assisting communities with legal support and campaign-development on land use issues;
(4) maintaining networks that allow communities to share knowledge and relationships with decision-makers;
(5) working with groups after they get access to land to build sustainable community governance as they become stewards of a public and inclusive resource; and
(6) advocating for municipal agencies to increase participatory decision-making surrounding public resources.
596 Acres is a project of the Fund for the City of New York.