"Making Room: Reshaping Our Housing Stock for a Real 21st Century Population"

On November 29, 2010 Jerilyn Perine and CHPC Policy Analyst Sarah Watson were invited to give a guest lecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. The topic was CHPC’s research project rethinking the New York City housing unit for our real population, “Making Room”.

A fundamental objective for housing policy in the 20th century in New York City was to eradicate the types of slum housing conditions that had been highlighted by the horrific images in the photographs of Jacob Reis. Reformers began to intervene in the housing market by establishing a set of legal standards for our housing units; from the minimum size, to the shape of rooms, to dictating who should be allowed to live together. But, the existence of such housing standards raises a key policy challenge in this new century: what happens when new populations have alternative housing requirements? If the basic legal standard fails to keep up with the changing city, there are fewer legal, safe and secure housing options that satisfy the financial, social and cultural needs of today’s population.

This presentation examined the impact of this issue in New York City, put forward alternative ways to examine real housing need, explored some new housing policy directions to ensure that we can safely and legally ‘make room’ for our 21st century households and looked at some solutions for this issue found in other cities around the world.

Harvard GSD Calendar