Hester Street

Lisa Hartland

New York City-based Hester Street is an urban planning, design, and development nonprofit that, among other initiatives, works to prevent the displacement of community anchor institutions by building equity through real estate and social justice. Founded in 2002, the organization aims to preserve vibrant, resilient neighborhoods and build equity at the grassroots.

Just as displacement threatens low-income tenants in gentrifying neighborhoods, community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve those tenants are affected by rising rents, lack of protections, and limited capital resources to improve or secure their spaces. Displacement of these neighborhood anchor institutions threatens community well-being by eliminating essential gathering spaces, accessible and affordable services, and often jobs in low-income communities of color.

Hester Street manages capital projects for CBOs seeking to secure their spaces for long-term benefit and neighborhood preservation. Over the past three years, they have planned, designed, or developed over 300,000 square feet of community resources: open space, libraries, child care, community centers, and more. Each project is unique and wildly complex, requiring specific skills and careful collaboration between multiple parties. Most are one-time projects for CBOs, which do not regularly develop property and need to keep focus on their missions and programs. New York City commits a large budget to these projects, but they are difficult to access and carry high risks. Hester street helps CBOs tap into and leverage that money while mitigating risks for capital projects focused on the stability and sustainability of neighborhood anchor institutions.