Public Art / Public Housing

In 2016, Groundswell teamed up with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and New York Council Committee on Public Housing Chair Ritchie Torres, to present “Public Art / Public Housing.”


This mural initiative brought together youth, teaching artists, and community leaders to co-create fifteen murals at five NYCHA public housing developments, one in each borough. The selected developments were Tompkins Houses (Brooklyn), Queensbridge Houses (Queens), Saint Nicholas Houses (Manhattan), Castle Hill Houses (Bronx), and Stapleton Houses (Staten Island). This collaboration celebrated the stories, hidden treasures, and imaginations of NYCHA residents by activating their communities as sites of dialogue through public art.



Groundswell employed NYCHA resident youth to use art as a tool for social change by cultivating stewardship of public space, community asset mapping, and the collaborative mural-making process. The artist teams illustrated a shared vision of revitalized communities by tackling a diverse array of pressing issues, including promoting holistic wellness, bridging the intergenerational divide, and ending gun violence.


“These murals have uplifted the whole community and deeply engaged young people who worked diligently for six months to better this housing development. They became part of something that will last for a long time,” said Tenant Association Leader Geraldine Lamb on the murals created at Castle Hill Houses. As she described in an interview with the New York Times, at first she resisted the Initiative but soon became one of the murals’ greatest supporters.


“Public Art / Public Housing” was a movement that encouraged the next generation of leaders to help create a more just and equitable world. All fifteen of these artworks demonstrate how the seemingly distinct priorities of art, public housing, and Groundswell’s youth and community development models can be aligned to support long-term change.


Read more about the projects in the New York TimesObserver, and Smithsonian Mag articles.


This initiative was supported with funds from the New York City Council under the leadership of Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Murals in this Series

  • Project

    Dreams and Aspirations

    Dreams and Aspirations centers on the message: the future is in our children. The mural is locate...

  • Project

    Be the Change

    Be the Change encourages elders to serve as mentors so that the young people of the Castle Hill H...

  • Project

    We Elevate Ourselves

    We Elevate Ourselves, the first mural installed in the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement Comm...