Listening Party and Community Conversation: The History and Future of Housing in Hudson and Catskill

Program Description: Join the Hudson Area Library and Oral History Summer School for a community listening party on the history and future of housing in Hudson as lived, felt and envisioned by area residents and local organizers.

Between short housing-related narratives excerpted from the Community Library of Voice and Sound, three community members will introduce their interests and questions, in order to lead our community conversation:

Urban geographer Sara Black (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency)  will discuss the legacy of urban renewal in Hudson as well as future opportunities for Hudson with the founding of a Housing Trust Fund.

Photographer and High School student Dezjuan Smith will share his perspective on the intersection of Housing and Education.

HCHC President, Organizer and Educator Claire Cousin (HCHC, HHA) will share the recent work and current priorities of the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition, a Black-led initiative that empowers public housing and low-income tenants to fight for housing justice.

We invite the community to come with your questions, testimony and visions. We will also discuss the reasons we record stories about housing and how these stories can be used to problem-solve, galvanize and intervene.

Date/Time: Thursday, October 21, 6:00pm-8:00pm

Registration: This virtual event will take place on Zoom. To register and receive the Zoom link, email

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries grant. To learn more about IMLS, visit

Bios of Conversation Leaders

Claire Cousin is a 28-year-old single mother of three and a long-time activist and organizer in Hudson, NY. She began her community work in response to the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center’s call to action. Her ability to connect with youth and families as well as serve as an inspiring and dedicated mentor led to her long resume of grassroots community. She has held various positions of advocacy throughout the system, thinking this was the way to help her people. Through working with underserved youth and families both in Hudson and Catskill, Claire realized that public housing tenants in both communities were facing strikingly similar threats of displacement and divestment in the face of gentrification. It was this insight,and the need for our people to be in control of our people that first gave birth to the idea of an alliance between Hudson and Catskill tenants that would eventually become the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition.  Claire now serves as our Board President and Lead Organizer for HCHC, a fully Black led organization. Her experience comes from the same place as her passion: a commitment to ensure that her community has access to the resources, care, and support that she didn’t find growing up. She provides mentorship for tomorrow’s leaders and fights alongside them for social and racial justice, always working to instill a sense of self-worth, passion and purpose.

Dezjuan Smith, 17 years old, is a young person who, because of the increasing need for housing, has taken on the roles of activist and organizer, to better serve the city of Hudson, and subsequently America’s society as it handles people of color and all marginalized communities. Dezjuan is also a photographer who likes to focus on portraiture.

Sara Black is the administrative director of the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency. She is also finishing a dissertation focused on racialized displacement in the Hudson Valley. She is from Birmingham, AL, and currently lives on Clinton Street.

Suzanne Snider is the Founder/Director of Oral History Summer School and, relatedly, directs the Community Library of Voice and Sound, an audio archive that contains 500-plus life histories of Hudson area residents (along with songs and ambient sound). Snider is passionate about bringing oral history tools to a range of people and professions, thinking about oral history as a way to organize, historicize, invert narrative power structures, and invite a wider range of authors to write history and our futures. Recently, she has worked with the National Public Housing Museum, Harvard Graduate School of Design, the National Library of Kosovo and Google AI. This year, she will lead projects in collaboration with Hudson youth, the Hudson Area Library and several area organizations to activate the audio archive in spaces including the Hudson Amtrak Station, Incident Report, Hudson Hall and WGXC 90.7 FM. She lives in Hudson with her daughter.