Rebecca Nathanson

Rebecca Nathanson is a freelance journalist based in New York. She has written for Al Jazeera America, n+1,, The Nation, The Progressive,, The Village Voice, and more.

Recent Articles

Slip Sliding Away on Nantucket

Year-round residents and wealthy summer visitors lock horns over housing and fighting erosion on an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

matt.a/Creative Commons
Josh Posner watches where he puts his feet. Behind him sits his beachfront home in Nantucket’s village of Siasconset; in front of him, a 60-foot drop down to the shore. As Posner ambles through the chest-high flowers, keeping the plants intact for his son’s upcoming backyard wedding is at odds with his aim of getting close to the edge of the bluff. Peering down at the sand that slopes to a 45-degree angle, he points out the long tubes running across the beach that brace the sandy cliff and keep the homes in his neighborhood from toppling into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an obvious-sounding mission: fighting beach erosion to preserve the house that his parents built decades ago and that he returns to every summer from his home base in Boston, where he works as an affordable housing developer. But the many peculiarities of Nantucket, a 47-square-mile island located about 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, combine to make those tubes highly controversial—a...

New York Libraries Turn the Page on Public Control

To alleviate their funding woes and the wider affordable housing crisis, city libraries are selling off land to real-estate developers. Is this privatization gambit worth the risk? 

(Photo: AP/Mark Lennihan)
It’s about 11 o’clock on a Wednesday morning, and all of the computers are taken at the small library in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Even so, with many local residents at school or work, there’s plenty of space elsewhere: Empty chairs remain at the long tables and only a handful of children occupy the kids’ section. But over the next few hours, schools will let out and offices will close and the heavily used library will return to its usual atmosphere: overflowing with patrons vying for computers or elbow room, and under-resourced by the city. Years of inadequate funding for New York City’s three library systems—Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), Queens Library, and New York Public Library (NYPL), which covers Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island—have led to massive capital budget deficits. David Woloch, BPL’s executive vice-president for external affairs, estimates that the Brooklyn system’s current unfunded capital needs alone total...

Can Affordable Housing Activists Save New York?

In the working-class Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood, community organizers who beat back plans for a high-rise luxury apartment building are taking their affordable housing campaign city-wide.

(Photo: Sipa USA via AP/Albin Lohr-Jones)
Joe Vazquez was leaving mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs church one Sunday in June when a stranger handed him a flyer for a community forum in his Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood. Vasquez, 34, had never taken part in anything he’d call political. But when he looked at the flyer and saw that the neighborhood where he had been born and raised could soon be rezoned for luxury high-rise apartments, he realized that his home—what he calls one of the last “relatively affordable” places in Manhattan—was in danger. The person who handed him that flyer was with a neighborhood coalition called Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale (NMN4S). The group formed this year to fight for affordable housing and against gentrification in Inwood, a working-class neighborhood that covers Manhattan’s northern tip. NMN4S was protesting plans for a 17-story apartment tower slated for construction at 4650 Broadway—the address of a two-story parking garage on Vazquez...