Karen Blondel

Activist, engineer, and NYCHA resident improving New York City’s public housing through resident engagement and unbiased education.

Who is Karen?

Karen is a native New Yorker from Coney Island. As a young, single mother at the age of 19, Karen moved into NYCHA’s Red Hook Houses. Over the decades, Karen became more interested in understanding the ‘why’ behind public housing’s state of disrepair. She is a self-taught engineer, policy wonk, architect, environmentalist, among other technical skills. She combines her expertise in both technical and policy contexts to engage residents in shaping their buildings and neighborhoods.Karen is a veteran organizer and Tenant Association President of Red Hook Houses West. She is a 2022 Harvard Loeb Fellow and was recently appointed to the new Public Housing Preservation Trust, a financing mechanism that uses bonds, instead of private financing, to repair NYCHA developments.Karen is currently focused on building a new program, Public Housing Civic Association (PHCA), that will serve as a NYCHA watchdog and educate tenants on their rights about municipal government, public and fair housing, and climate justice. She envisions PHCA as a conduit to distill information and decisions to legible (and accurate) information for residents to understand, communicate, and interpret.

Experience at a Glance

NYCHA Resident Liaison
Brooklyn, NY August 2022 – Present
• Support WOR program's project management, communication, and onsite visits.
• Conduct interviews, analyze findings, and aid resident sessions for improved program efficiency.
• Enhance resident experience through innovative tools and efficient program elements.
Loeb Fellow
Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2021-2022
Completed the Loeb Fellowship, researching urbanization and global public housing history. Engaging with policymakers, architects, and students, she led discussions and connected with guests, while also fostering one-on-one undergraduate interactions.
Organizer and Environmental Consultant
Fifth Avenue Committee, July 2016-2021
• Created an eight month long indoor and outdoor environmental curriculum focused on educating the Gowanus and Red Hook area regarding the Gowanus Canal Superfund Cleanup.
• Educated Red Hook Residents on the Red Hook Ballfield and Stadium Environmental Cleanup and resiliency process.
• Investigated and created consensus in the community around meaningful indoor environmental and neighborhood resiliency processes and advocated for the benefit of the entire community.

Press and Upcoming Events


Karen is available for press inquiries, speaking engagements, and consulting engagements.
Please get in touch by completing this form and she will be in touch!