Health Department, Community Service Society Host Photography Exhibit Featuring the Work of East and Central Harlem Public Housing Residents

Over six weeks, 28 NYCHA residents discussed how they stay healthy and then told their stories through photographs

Exhibit raises awareness about being healthy and addresses residents’ barriers to health care in East and Central Harlem

Harlem Public Housing

June 24, 2017 — The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity and the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) today hosted a photography exhibit showcasing the work of 28 public housing residents in East and Central Harlem. Participants met for six weeks in April and May to discuss how they stay healthy and then shared their stories through photographs. The exhibit raises awareness about barriers to optimal health experienced by New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in East and Central Harlem. The show took place at the Julia De Burgos Performance and Arts Center in East Harlem.

“I am proud to support the Harlem Health Advocacy Partners and the PhotoVoice project. The photographs are a great example of how art can express the joys and challenges in our daily lives,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The exhibit celebrates the rich culture of Central and East Harlem and inspires us to preserve the neighborhood's beauty. It also brings together residents to advocate for positive change in the health of this community.”

Harlem Pubklic Housing

The photography exhibit was a collaborative effort between the Community Service Society (CSS) and the Harlem Health Advocacy Partners (HHAP). Advocates for CSS led the photo project, providing disposable cameras and photojournalism training to the participants. HHAP — a free program created by the Health Department, NYCHA, CSS and other community partners – has worked in East and Central Harlem to support the health and wellbeing of all residents.

“PhotoVoice is a valuable tool to make visible injustices experienced often by our residents, create opportunities for collective dialogue, and advocate for the solutions and change that is most relevant to New Yorkers' lives,” said Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Center for Health Equity.

“Raising public awareness about chronic disease and other health factors leads to better choices and health outcomes for New Yorkers. That’s why CSS is proud to be a partner on this important community initiative,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society. “While providing health care and coverage navigation assistance is an essential component of our work, supporting additional wellness events and activities are just as imperative. Poor communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by longstanding and persistent disparities in health and health care. Through meaningful projects like PhotoVoice, we can highlight the wonderful work of the HHAP program and help improve access to vital health programs and coverage options.”

“We are so proud of the NYCHA residents and partners who created this community vision of health for the PhotoVoice project,” said Sideya Sherman, NYCHA’s Executive Vice President of Community Engagement and Partnerships. “This collaborative effort supports families who call NYCHA home by connecting them to health resources and cultivating resident leadership in health. It also enhances our ability to create the safe, clean and connected communities every NYCHA family deserves.”

"I commend the Harlem Health Advocacy Partners and the PhotoVoice project for implementing this photograph exhibition," said U.S. Congress Member Adriano Espaillat. "Art is one of the truest forms of expression and this project serves as a vehicle for East and Central Harlem NYCHA residents to tell their stories through art exploration and presents them an opportunity to raise awareness of the daily issues they face as it relates to their health, wellness and livelihood."

“The Photo Voice project is great way to highlight our community’s NYCHA residents and their health experiences in East Harlem. In a neighborhood where we have some of the highest asthma and diabetes rates in the city, public housing residents often struggle to gain access to health education and health services. I congratulate HHAP, the CSS, and the NYCHA residents who shared their health stories to bring public awareness to the many health disparities that are affecting the people of East Harlem,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez, East Harlem, Central Harlem, and the Upper East Side.

“The PhotoVoice exhibit not only helps address public health through artwork — it also very importantly showcases the diverse voices and experiences of NYCHA community members in East Harlem,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I’m thankful that this project has allowed residents in my district to display their artistic creativity and raise awareness of healthy lifestyle habits, and I want to thank the Mayor’s Administration and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for helping make this exhibit a reality.”

"NYCHA residents sharing their lives and stories through photography is a truly powerful method to uplift communities and challenge us all to think differently about our neighbors. I applaud the residents who took part in this project and shared a piece of themselves," said New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Council's Committee on Public Housing.

About Community Service Society of New York
The Community Service Society of New York (CSS) is an informed, independent, and unwavering voice for positive action on behalf of more than 3 million low-income New Yorkers. CSS draws on a 170-year history of excellence in addressing the root causes of economic disparity through research, advocacy, litigation, and innovative program models that strengthen and benefit all New Yorkers. For more information on CSS, visit

About the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity
Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City. For more information on the Center for Health Equity, visit

Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using #NYCHealthEquity.



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