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Behind the List

The History of Listings Project

By Stephanie Diamond
June 22, 2021

20 + years ago, I sent an email to friends asking for housing leads. I had no idea, at the time, that that inquiry would evolve into Listings Project. But here we are almost nineteen years later, helping people find and share space. We’ve come so far since our early days when I copy and pasted listings into a word doc before sending them out.  So much has changed since then, but some things have stayed the same. We are as committed as ever to our vision of collective self-care, to carefully vetting all our listings, to supporting artists, and to bringing together diverse groups of people to create respectful, life-affirming, justice focused ways of sharing space.

We have carefully developed our values and practices over the years. As we step into the future of Listings Project, I wanted to take a moment to share our journey with the community. So, here is a brief history of Listings Project’s growth and evolution.

2003: A Community Art Project is Born

In 2003 I emailed my friends asking them for housing leads. I was a graduate student at NYU and desperate to find an apartment close to campus. Even after I found an apartment, though, people kept sending me housing leads. As a social practice artist, it was second nature for me to keep sharing them. I was soon soliciting and collecting dozens of listings per week, formatting them in a word document, and emailing them out to all my friends. 


Stephanie's apartment, where she began Listings Project; photo by Stephanie Diamond

2004 - 2010: Growing a Community

It wasn’t immediately clear to me that I was building a business. It was clear, though, that I was helping my community. After a few months, my friend Sanford Biggers sent me a listing saying “can you send this out to your amazing list?It was the first time someone had reached out proactively to contribute a listing, and to access the community that was forming. That’s when I knew I was really on to something. It felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. It felt sustainable and collaborative and like I was a part of something bigger than myself and also able to be of service. 

By 2008 the list was so large that I realized I needed to work with a newsletter service provider. Just sending people emails from my personal email wasn’t going to work. That year I also officially named the list, “Listings Project,” and I bought our domain name.


Dana Kaplan-Angle (our first Community Manager) during "Home Away from Home", a Listings Project exhibition; photo by Dondre Stuetley

2010 - 2015: Becoming a Business

By 2010, Listings Project was a vibrant community of thousands of people. It was still free to post, so I made ends meet through several adjunct teaching jobs. I thought I was on the precipice of getting job security and benefits through one of my gigs, but as so often happens with adjunct teaching positions, at the last minute I found myself out of work and wondering what to do. I knew I didn’t want to stop working on the Listings Project, but I was spending an enormous amount of time on it and I needed to find a way to make it financially sustainable. 

So in 2011, we started charging for listings on a sliding scale.  And, in 2013, we began work on our first website. My daughter was due that year, so I raced to finish it before she was born. Our website was a game-changer for us. For the first time, we had a real presence on the internet. It made us more visible and helped Listings Project grow dramatically.


Stephanie hosting a focus group with Listings Project users; photo by Stephanie Diamond

2015 - 2018: Building our Team

We had a developer working on our site ten hours per month, but it quickly became clear that we needed more help. We had a backlog of work that needed to get done and there were opportunities that we weren’t taking advantage of. So in 2015, on the recommendation of a trusted advisor and friend, I hired an engineer. It was my first full-time hire, and I had to take out a bank loan to do it. Between 2015 and 2018 our team continued to grow, eventually adding two more wonderful people who could help shepherd Listings Project into the next phase. 

By 2017 I was leading a team of four. It was a challenge, but it was also a relief. It was so exciting to learn from the team and collaborate creatively. And I was thrilled to know that we had the resources and the diversity of expertise to continue to support the community. 


The Listings Project team in Berkeley, CA (2017); photo by Stephanie Diamond

2018 - 2020: Tending to our Community

By 2018 we had grown—entirely by word of mouth— into a bigger and more vibrant community than I ever could have imagined. It was clear to me that if we were going to continue to preserve the intimacy and empathy of Listings Project, we need to be even more intentional about making Listings Project an inclusive and equitable space for everyone. In 2018 we had our first equity and inclusion workshop with our team, and in 2019 we committed to an Equity and Inclusion Statement to guide our practices. This statement informed the development of our Community Agreements. We strive to live our Community Agreements of equity, transparency, accountability, collective care, justice and joy. Listings Project is built on a vision of accountability to our community and these core commitments guide us every day.

We also decided it was time to invest in storytelling and content at Listings Project. It was something we had talked about for a long time, and in 2020, just as the pandemic swept across the world, we hired our first writer and began working on creating our blog. We also began outlining the kinds of writing we wanted to share: resources and guides to navigating real estate, profiles of artists and activists, and articles about what we believe and how we operate at Listings Project. Our blog would be a new way for us to create a more equitable, inclusive, and empathetic real estate world with our community.


Listings Project team equity workshop (2018); photo by Stephanie Diamond

2022 - 2022: Expanding Jobs & Gigs

03-08-23 Jobs & Gigs Landing

StuyDYED is a Brooklyn based, woman owned tie dye business, Job & Gig listing posted by Nadia Pinder

As the pandemic upended lives all over the world, things were tumultuous at Listings Project, too. We began to think about how we could expand, and be of service to more people, in more places, and in more ways. At the beginning of 2021, we decided to focus our attention on growing in Los Angeles and collaborated with listers in that region to find the best ways to make the Listings Project relevant for a new audience. We also began working with skilled practitioners in diversity, equity, and inclusion work. 

As connecting online became more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, we made  our seeking categories free for at least a year, to enable listers to reach out and find each other. From free singing zoom telegrams to collective movement sessions and from local mutual aid efforts and to zoom dance parties artists and healers figured out how to move their practices online, and our community members hosted.

Who Makes Up Our Community

And after surveying our listers in the summer of 2020, and discovering how many of them were artists and many of them did freelance service work, we decided to expand and refine our Services Offered section to better support listers in their creative and professional lives. We created and launched a new Jobs & Gigs section that is entirely separate from our Real Estate listings in March of 2022.

2023: An Anniversary Year

2023 was a year of celebration at Listings Project! We proudly rang in our 20th anniversary with various celebrations throughout the year. What started out as a personal apartment search among friends, has grown into a community resource across the United States and internationally. Whether you have been here for 20 + years, or just joined last week, you are central to what the Listings Project community is today.

Feature image: Stephanie's first apartment found through Listings Project; photo by Stephanie Diamond

Stephanie is an artist, entrepreneur and Founder / CEO of Listings Project. She creates communities of collective self-care. With over three decades of experience community building, the largest community she has created to date is Listings Project. As a social practice artist, she creates with a community as opposed to an audience. She has exhibited at: MoMA, MASS MoCA, MoMA/P.S. 1, Studio Museum in Harlem, Queens Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Project Row Houses, to name a few. As an educator and leader she has held positions at museums, public art institutions, and schools and universities. Lean more about Stephanie at:

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