CHPC had a wonderful day touring the real world of New York City housing! On February 28, CHPC staff members visited a number of sites in Brooklyn that are closely related to our work.
We were happy to be joined for the day by a studio of graduate students of the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Architecture. Georgia Tech professor Michael Gamble is leading a three-year design + research studio entitled, 21st Century Housing: Making Room in the Contemporary City, for students to develop fully-realized buildings that respond to environmental realities, as well as support the needs of 21st century households and lifestyles. Professor Gamble brought his students to New York City for several days of site visits and tours of modern, well-designed compact apartments supported by communal spaces. Also joining us were Lisa Blecker and Laura Anderson of Resource Furniture, Diana Budds, a writer at Dwell Magazine, and Tricia Napor from the Alcoa Foundation.
Our day began at Navy Green, a supportive housing residence adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Vanderbilt Avenue. Navy Green is operated by the Pratt Area Community Council, a non-profit organization based nearby in Brooklyn, with CHPC President Mark Ginsberg as the technical architect. PACC staff took our group through the building, highlighting its public spaces, well-lit corridors and stairwells, and a comfortable studio apartment for formerly homeless residents.
From Navy Green, our group went to Capsys, a producer of modular apartment units located inside the Navy Yard. There, we toured the assembly line of their massive building, once used to build warships but now converted to create apartments. We had the chance to walk through some nearly completed modules that were set for a supportive housing development targeted for military veterans in the Bronx.
After lunch at the Navy Yard’s Building 92, CHPC and the Georgia Tech cohort visited nArchitects at their offices in DUMBO. nArchitects won the Bloomberg administration’s adAPT competition – to design a micro-unit building on East 27th Street in Manhattan. Partner Eric Bunge described the firm’s vision, its work to date, and walked the group through the process of winning the adAPT competition and the meticulous planning that was required to make the building happen.
It was a day full of learning about new approaches to housing a wide range of populations—a great way to connect the work of CHPC to the way New Yorkers are actually living and to introduce the Georgia Tech students to the diversity of our living spaces.
STEERING THE NEW COURSE:
CHPC’s Ideas for Housing and Land Use Policy in New York City
With so much political change in New York this year, we felt that it was important to set out our suggestions and priorities for housing and land use policy based on all of CHPC’s work over recent years. We always aim to be a resource for decision-makers inside and outside of government – to help them to understand NYC’s most pressing housing and neighborhood issues, think through the real impact of policy on the three-dimensional built environment, and map out realistic policy steps for housing and land use that can result in positive change for our city and all New Yorkers.
The content of this publication does not cover every single policy area that we believe the administration should explore. Instead, it focuses on the research and education work that has been undertaken in-depth by CHPC in recent years; the areas where we can offer our unique insight. These suggestions will continue to develop as we expand our workplan through 2014.
CHPC’s research and analysis has been summarized into five key challenges that the city is facing:
1. The Growing City
We have a growing population trying to break into a housing market with a historic shortage of supply. Estimates range from an additional 600,000-850,000 New Yorkers expected by 2030.
We need to expand our housing supply as cost effectively as possible, not just by focusing on financial solutions, but also on planning, zoning, and building reforms.
2. The Hidden City
At least 250,000 New Yorkers are estimated to be sharing housing in some informal or illegal way, creating an economic and legal inequality that renders even basic fire safety and lease protection a distant hope for residents.
We need to encourage the development of new housing models that safely and legally accommodate additional density within our existing housing stock, while protecting and supporting the needs of our non-traditional households.
3. The City of Aging Buildings
Our housing stock is aging—87% of our housing units were built before 1973. The associated problems are especially acute in our public housing buildings, which face unsustainable budget gaps along with growing infrastructure needs.
We need to protect and preserve our vulnerable rental stock by designing government interventions to meet the most pressing needs.
4.The City of Neighborhoods
Despite $5.34 billion of city investment in housing over the last 12 years, the families that enter the shelter system today still largely come from the same neighborhoods as they did 30 years ago—in Central Brooklyn, the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan. More troubling is that new neighborhoods are now added to the list, like Williamsbridge in the Bronx and Jamaica in Queens.
There are also neighborhoods that have experienced unprecedented growth by new immigrant groups in recent years but do not receive any attention from the government in terms of housing policy or investment.
We need government agencies to come together to strategically target and help our neighborhoods that are most in need.
5. The Damaged City
Over a year ago, Hurricane Sandy caused $19 billion in damage to private and public property in New York City and the loss of 48 lives. This natural catastrophe has led to the wholesale economic displacement of communities, with only 4 homeowners beginning to repair their homes through the city’s Build it Back program to date.
We still need to repair and rebuild our neighborhoods after Sandy and reshape the city’s housing response to this and future crises.
You can read the full publication here (pdf):
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