Pomonok Dreams is an ideal film for undergraduate or graduate students taking courses in topics such as urban history, housing policy, community design, and postwar American history. The rich content in the film, and fast pace, offers opportunities for multiple interpretations and much debate.
• In an urban history class, students will see how public housing–as designed, managed, and tenanted in New York City–might have had a very different and more positive outcome for residents and cities than was the case in other American cities. The Pomonok Houses story contrasts sharply with the famous Pruitt-Igoe and Cabrini-Green public housing disasters, raising interesting questions about the “essential” nature of public housing. Could public housing have turned out differently?
• Students studying housing (both design and policy) can use the film to discuss issues such as tenant selection, community design, housing finance, and management practices. Pomonok Houses, although built in the 1950s by New York City, had much in common with today’s affordable housing practices, including a strong emphasis on rent collection, community activities, and careful tenant selection. What are the long-term challenges of maintaining quality subsidized housing?
• Students in American history classes will develop a better sense of what it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s before the era of digital technology. The intense outdoor social life of children, and informal parental social control, is documented at Pomonok Houses through interviews and the narrative. What has been lost and gained since the postwar era in terms of culture, community, and childhood?