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Woman shares experience of growing up in New York City public housing: 'a lot from a little'

Beyond the deferred maintenance and conventional exteriors of public housing project buildings, there are apartments with unique and carefully curated interiors.

Woman shares experience of growing up in New York City public housing: 'a lot from a little'
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @jayah.a

A 'home' could mean different things to different people. For most, it is the house or roof you reside under. After all, it becomes a space you customize, feel safe in and always go to when you need respite from the outside world. A New York City native is lifting the veil on the truth about growing up in public housing and providing a perfect example of how a house can be transformed into a home. Jayah Arnett—who goes by @jayah.a on TikTok—a Nike direct marketing specialist, shared a heartfelt video that delves into the carefully put-together lifestyles of public housing residents and their ability "to create a lot from a little." 

Image Source: TikTok | @jayah.a
Image Source: TikTok | @jayah.a

The first nostalgic video clip showed glimpses of her housing and her childhood. "When you stepped into that apartment, it felt like you were in another place. She had one of those 70s or 80s TV with the knobs and I was obsessed with it."

She adds, "My grandmother always kept that house looking spiffy. She always changed her curtains and put panels on the walls. My favorite piece of furniture growing up in the projects was the couch in the sala. Up until the day she died, it was a space for us to just be together. The sofa was a special place. It was probably and is the most memorable and my favorite piece of furniture at my grandma's house."

Image Source: TikTok | @jayah.a
Image Source: TikTok | @jayah.a

The clip was directed by Flordalis Espinal and produced by Arnett. It promotes the #FeelingAtHome campaign commissioned in partnership with the National Public Housing Museum (@thenphm) and My Projects Runway (@my.projectsrunway), celebrating the creative imagination and brilliant efforts of public housing residents.

The caption also reads, "Beyond the deferred maintenance and unassuming and conventional exteriors of public housing project buildings, there are often apartment units with unique, enthralling, and carefully curated interiors."

Image Source: TikTok
Image Source: TikTok

In the follow-up video, which received over 114.3k views, showing her childhood that her mom got, Arnett explains, "Growing up in public housing was a different experience. I remember the day that my mom first got her apartment. She was excited to call something her own. Despite the stereotypes placed on people, I want others to know that the inside of these homes is usually carefully curated from their kitchen to the living room with their random figurines out that reflect our spiritual beliefs, cases of pictures with memories from childhood."

Arnett advocates for public housing residents and the fact that they are people with real stories and experiences, just like any other human being. "To some, the projects may just be the hood, but for others, this is the best experience they've had because it’s better than what they’ve known," she says.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by My Projects Runway ™ (@my.projectsrunway)


 

Arnett also curated Community Matriarchs of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), an exhibition about New York City public housing. "My Projects Runway was created in the [midst] of the pandemic trying to figure out a way to be impactful in a small but mighty way," Arnett told In The Know. "Right now, My Projects Runway is on a mission to inspire and collect as many NYCHA (residents) archives and stories that go along with it. Currently, my goal is to destigmatize the current narratives people have about public housing residents. Some include that they are welfare recipients, 'dirty,' criminals, and so much more."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by My Projects Runway ™ (@my.projectsrunway)


 

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by National Public Housing Museum (@thenphm)


 

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