The Metropolitan Council on Housing has been at the forefront of the most important struggles for housing justice in New York City for over half a century.
The origins of the Metropolitan Council on Housing
During the early spring of 1959, housing activists from across New York City began to gather at the 23rd Street YMCA to share stories and tactics from tenant and community struggles against urban renewal projects in the city.
Jane Benedict, a former labor organizer, founded the Yorkville Save Our Homes coalition to oppose the construction of luxury condos in her neighborhood. Jane hired a sound truck to broadcast information about upcoming meetings to the neighborhood. Further downtown, in Chelsea, Jane Wood led her Latino neighborhood in opposing the Penn Station South redevelopment project which would have replaced six blocks of low rent tenements with high-rise housing. In Cooper Square, future SNCC activist Staughton Lynd led the fight against urban renewal, and in the Lower East Side Francis Goldin and Esther Rand organized tenants out of their local American Labor Party office.
In May 1959 these organizers were joined by several others and formalized their meetings as the Metropolitan Council on Housing (popularly known as Met Council), a citywide organization that rapidly emerged as a major force in the New York City tenant movement.