Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing Toolkit":

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Fort Lauderdale complex proves prefab affordable housing can bring the glamour

Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will be home to a new affordable housing unit as part of the collaborative work between Glavovic Studio and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an organization that delivers medical care and services dealing with HIV/AIDS to over one million people worldwide. Fort Lauderdale–based Glavovic Studio plans to transform one-and-a-half city blocks into a green, multi-functional neighborhood for locals to enjoy, all within walking distance of South Florida’s New River. The 3.4-acre design concept called “ON3RD” strives to tackle the nation’s affordable housing and homeless crises by providing fast access to cheap and environmentally friendly housing for low-income individuals. The “affordable residential development campus” will contain a 15-story residential tower, parking garage, and two preexisting service buildings owned by AHF. With the growing number of workers and residents in the area, as well as the steady increase of homelessness generally in the United States, there has been a rising demand for pedestrian and transit-friendly environments in downtown Fort Lauderdale, especially those that incorporate greenery, support infrastructure, and urban open space. Glavovic Studio sought to create a community that reflects the existing fabric of Fort Lauderdale, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades. The firm made sure to include multiple landscaped plazas, terraces, and micro-gardens in the site plan, contributing to the idea of a wholesome, walkable, urban space. While the housing units are designed to tie in seamlessly with the existing fabric of the city, its various zones and neighborhoods will provide visitors with a sense of being in a “city within a city.” The L-shaped residential building that serves as the focal point of the site will house 680 modular micro-apartments, including 260-square-foot-units and 400-square-foot-townhomes on its first four floors. These unit types were chosen primarily because they can be built efficiently using basic construction methods, and they include prefabricated interior bathrooms and kitchens, repeated window wall systems, and standard floor plates, all of which can be built off-site and installed into the building with ease. To diminish the building’s massive scale, its protruding balconies fluctuate at various angles to make it seem as though the structure is composed of a series of interconnected, smaller buildings. Glavovic Studio, which views sustainability as a core part of its philosophy, will layer the building with decorative masonry breeze blocks, which will not only give the structure a sense of texture and depth, but also regulate its exposure to sun and shadow in order to provide each unit with an abundance of shading and cooling. Because the breeze blocks will reduce the need for air conditioning systems, they will save energy and drastically lower the monthly electric bills for the residents. The jutting balconies provide shade and further lower the room temperatures of each unit, a necessary feature for South Florida's hot and muggy climate. “Working with AHF, we have looked far beyond architectural solutions to include political, social, and strategic approaches as well, including community partners and the public on affordable housing issues,” stated Margi Nothard, founder of Glavovic Studio, in a statement. “The ultimate goal is to create a model for a sustainable, economically viable and dignified solution to this entrenched problem.”
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CUP Tools Up

Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) asked housing advocates and community groups what educational tools they needed the most. The topic of affordable housing was at the top of the list, so designers set to work devising a handy way to help New Yorkers comprehend the much-debated subject. “Affordable housing is a term that has been thrown around for a long time,” said CUP staff member John Mangin. “A lot of people are suspicious of it, it is complicated, and the technical meaning behind it is not always apparent when you hear the word.” CUP’s answer is a red plastic kit of parts called the Affordable Housing Toolkit. Inside the box is a colorful felt chart designed for workshops where housing advocates, community organizers, developers, and educational institutions can use bright squares and dots to help participants engage in a conversation about current projects—and whether those are actually affordable for residents in need. Also included is a guidebook outlining the basics of affordable housing, as well as access to an online map that displays statistics and income demographics in different neighborhoods. (The kit is available for purchase on a sliding rate scale, while the map and the book can be accessed for free.) Developed with graphic design studio MTWTF, the Pratt Center for Community and Economic Development, and Brooklyn-based advocacy group Fifth Avenue Committee, the project aims to get New Yorkers to ask the question: “Affordable to whom?”  According to CUP Executive Director Christine Gaspar, there is a need for a certain level of mutual understanding in order to be able to start a deeper conversation. “Hopefully the toolkit will let individuals throughout the city understand how affordable housing works. This means that they can advocate in their own community, talk to elected officials, and hold them accountable to the decisions they make,” Gaspar said. Dave Powell, a tenant organizer, stressed that CUP’s pedagogic and visual approach is necessary, since the finer points of housing policy are rarely conveyed to ordinary citizens. “CUP helps us deconstruct our environment in order to advocate for social justice––which we are unable to do simply by reading through hundreds of tax pages from the planning department.” Last Friday, a group of young community organizers gathered for one of CUP’s first workshops with the new toolkit. Among the participants was coordinator Katie Goldstein from tenant-rights group Tenants & Neighbors. She said her citywide organization will use the felt chart to involve residents in a discussion about broader policy trends. “It will help us figure out what are the right targets for us to organize against and how to preserve affordable housing for the long term,” she told AN, adding that the interactive quality of the toolkit is what she appreciates the most. At a time when one in 20 New Yorkers lives in public housing and a third of the city’s residents spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, the toolkit might perhaps be better called a first-aid kit. Fortunately, this effort is just the first in CUP’s program called Envisioning Development Toolkits, which aims to demystify controversial and confusing concepts in New York City land use. Upcoming curatives focus on zoning law and the city’s exhaustive development review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.