Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":

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Total Reset: Institute for Public Architecture Symposium Tackles Affordable Housing in New York City

The history of affordable housing in the United States has always centered on efforts—research, architectural prototypes, and creative financing—undertaken in New York City. From early philanthropic models like the late 19th century Cobble Hill Tower Homes, the 1911 Vanderbilt-sponsored Cherokee Model Apartments, and the 1930s Amalgamated Dwellings on the Lower East Side, virtually all early advancement in housing reform in this country began in New York City. Beyond philanthropic models, New York has also birthed the most important organizations advancing the cause of affordable housing—from the Phipps Houses to the Regional Planning Association and the Rockefeller-era Urban Development Corporation. These organizations not only realized models of affordable housing like Sunnyside Gardens in Queens and Via Verde in the Bronx but theorized creative options for affordable housing in capitalist economies like the United States. It is no mistake that New York alone of all American cities has a diverse array of housing options for low- and even moderate-income residents that is the envy of the rest of the country. In the tradition of these New York advocacy organizations there is a new group that promises to continue New York's leadership in the field of affordable housing. The organization—Institute for Public Architecture (IPA)—was founded in 2009 by architect Jonathan Kirschenfeld (for which he has just been honored by the New York State AIA with the inaugural Henry Hobson Richardson Award). Its mission is not focused simply on housing, but on the larger subject of promoting socially engaged architecture. In its first year of programming it organized an exhibition and discussion on Marcus Garvey Village in Brownsville, Brooklyn and an exhibition, Low Rise High Density, that highlighted an obvious but all-too-often overlooked condition of urban housing focused on scale and density. In an attempt to keep the spotlight on housing—specifically the crises of affordability affecting most American cities and New York in particular—the institute organized a symposium, Total Reset, based on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's recent promise to reset the city's public and affordable housing policies. Total Reset brought professional planners, scholars, architects, and housing organization directors together with housing and neighborhood activists. The symposium, held at Columbia's Studio X, began with three case studies: the "Vienna Model" on contemporary municipal housing in the Austrian capital (which I presented) and new New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Turnkey and Modernization programs by James McCullar; "Reimagining Brownsville" by Nadine Maleh; and finally Rick Gropper and Richard Weinstock of L+M Development Partners presented their firm’s facade restoration and refinancing of a 1,093-unit Mitchell-Lama residential complex in Far Rockaway, Queens. Then, more importantly, the symposium was opened up to activists from community organizations and leaders of various New York housing authorities to discuss the real, on-the-ground problems of maintaining and creating housing in the city. The discussion focused on issues of what to do with public housing in the face of drastic federal funding cuts amid enormous housing shortages and needs. Several panelists talked about the anchoring role that public housing has played in poor communities and how this is threatened by the lack of support and ongoing infrastructure improvements. One of the most controversial issues tackled by panelists was the role that the discourses on privatization would have on the city and that human needs should come before corporate profits. The afternoon was left for Peter Marcuse, the long-time Columbia planner who made the argument that for housing to really work there is a need today "for a fundamental rethinking and considering of all social benefits of housing not just having a focus on profits." Another panelist, Nicholas Bloom, suggested that the institute's next housing meeting should take place in a NYCHA facility. That's exactly what the organization plans to do next fall. There is no other city where the conversation on public housing is taking place at the level that the IPA intends and that's why New York will continue to lead the country in creative ideas and solutions to house that part of the population locked out of the private marketplace.
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New York Affordable Housing Experts Weigh In on De Blasio’s Pending Housing Plan

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been promising to “preserve or construct” nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing since his days as the most unlikely of mayoral contenders. Since stepping into City Hall, the mayor has repeated that pledge nearly every chance he gets. But while the affordable housing plan is one of his central policy issues, it’s still not clear how the city can hit the mayor’s magic number. That should change this week when de Blasio’s housing team releases their detailed plan of action. Before that plan is released, however, AN asked some of the city’s leading architects, advocates, and planners what they hope to see in the team’s path forward. David Burney Former Commissioner Department of Design and Construction “While we all expect the mayor to focus on mandatory inclusionary zoning as a means of increasing the supply of affordable housing, I am hopeful that other possibilities will not be overlooked. We need affordable housing, but in the right places—in the neighborhoods that need it. We also need to develop that housing near to transit. One unfortunate policy of the Bloomberg administration was the down zoning of neighborhoods close to public transit—where we need more density not less. Hopefully the new administration will take a fresh look at that downzoning. Another proposal that deserves attention is the one from Michael Lappin and Mark Willis to help small builder/developers build affordable rental housing on small lots, using a participatory loan program.” Karen Kubey Executive Director Institute for Public Architecture “Affordable housing is at the core of a livable city and design in the public interest. New Yorkers need an ambitious, achievable housing plan, one that provides not only more affordable apartments, but also a wide range of housing models and an investment in quality, lasting architecture. In line with this, the Institute for Public Architecture recently launched ‘Total Reset,’ a long-term initiative supporting efforts to improve public and affordable housing in New York. We applaud Mayor de Blasio for making affordable housing a priority again for New York City.” Bill Stein Principal Dattner Architects “From a design point of view—while maintaining all the regulations and requirements—any way that the approval and review process by various agencies can be simplified and streamlined would go a long way toward developing more affordable housing more quickly. From a broader perspective, I hope the plan encourages some degree of innovation and experimentation in building types and housing types. … Finding sites is a key challenge for affordable housing in New York City. Sites that are available tend to be more difficult and expensive to develop: irregular dimensions, significant topography, other environmental factors, etc. The administration’s housing plan can help address this challenge by the creative use of underutilized land, whether through a program for NYCHA sites, rezoning where appropriate or enhanced incentives for mixed use/mixed income developments.” Adam Friedman Director Pratt Center for Community Development “There are three things that we are particularly focused on: First of all, mandatory inclusionary housing, which we would argue should be citywide above a certain density. Second, a strategy for legalizing what are now accessory dwelling units. Third, something we would not want to see is more rezoning of manufacturing to residential. A lot of that has already been done under the Bloomberg Administration and we want to understand why so much of that hasn’t been developed. And we would want to make sure the prospect of those zoning changes includes a strategy for retaining those jobs.” Andrew Berman Executive Director Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation “The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation strongly supports efforts to keep our neighborhoods and New York City a diverse and affordable place to live. We hope that the Mayor’s plan will do that while respecting the scale and character of our communities and those qualities, which draw people to our neighborhoods and make them wonderful places to live.  We hope that the Mayor will not buy into the REBNY canard that unfettered development and a weakening of historic preservation and zoning protections will somehow make New York City more affordable, as opposed to simply lining developers’ pockets and destroying some of our city’s most beloved landmarks and neighborhoods.” Jaron Benjamin Executive Director Metropolitan Council on Housing "We're hoping the mayor targets, one, preserving our existing affordable housing. Two, he’s looking looking at responsible ways to involve the NYCHA communities in what happens. And three, we’re hoping that Mayor de Blasio, unlike his predecessor, really looks at responsible ways to build affordable housing. And finally, we’re going to look at how he plans to reduce the ranks of the homeless."
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Shanghai Company 3-D Prints Village of Humble Concrete Homes

A Shanghai building company has erected a small village of pitched-roof, 3-D printed structures—in about a day. WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co is behind the series of humble buildings, a fully fabricated unit is expected to cost less than $5,000. The homes were created through the use of a 490- by 33- by 20-foot 3-D printer that fabricates the basic components required for assembly. Rather than plastic, the machine behind these structures spits out layer upon layer of concrete made in part from recycled construction waste, industrial waste, and tailings. WinSun intends to construct 100 factories that will harness such waste in order to generate their affordable "ink," which is also reinforced with glass fibers. Purists will note that the WinSun productions are not 3-D printed structures in the traditional sense. Rather than projects like these, or the contour crafting processes championed by USC Professor Berokh Khoshnev, the Shanghai homes are not printed on site layer by layer. Instead they are composites of 3-D printed parts that require human intervention in order to be assembled into something resembling a house. WinSun estimates that their methods can cut construction costs in half and sees the potential for "affordable and dignified housing" for the impoverished.
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De Blasio Appoints “Tenant-Friendly” Members to New York City’s Rent Guidelines Board

Some much-needed rent relief could be in store for over one million New Yorkers. The New York Observer reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed five “tenant-friendly” members to the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, which oversees rent increases for rent-stabilized units. During the mayoral campaign, then-candidate de Blasio was quite critical of the Board. At the time, he called for a rent freeze on some units and slammed their decision to allow 4 percent increases on one-year leases. As with most of his appointments thus far, de Blasio is signaling a clear break from his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. A spokesperson for the de Blasio Administration told The Observer “we plan to undertake an ambitious agenda that confronts the affordability crisis facing the city’s tenants.”
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De Blasio and Domino Sugar Factory Developer At Odds Over Affordable Housing

The $1.5 billion redevelopment of Brooklyn's Domino Sugar Factory has reached a potential breaking point just days before a vote to seal its fate. It’s New York Mayor Bill de Blasio against developer Jed Walentas in what can best be described as an old-fashioned standoff. The lines are drawn—here’s where things stand. The New York Times reports that Mayor de Blasio has insisted that Walentas increase the amount of affordable housing units at the site. In return, his administration will grant approval for taller towers at the SHoP-designed site. Specifically, de Blasio’s team asked for an additional 50,000-square-feet of affordable housing, which would be used for larger units to accommodate families. But Walentas says he’s already done more than enough. The current proposal sets aside 660 of the total 2,300 apartments for low- and middle-income tenants. In fact, Walentas is reportedly so distraught over the mayor’s request that he has threatened to scrap the whole thing altogether. According to the Times, “Mr. Walentas is balking, and has even threatened to revert to the older, unpopular plan.” That plan only includes only 440 affordable units. While that seems unlikely, some affordable housing advocates are worried de Blasio’s gamble could backfire. Rob Solano, a local community board member and executive director of Churches United for Fair Housing, told the Times, “It’s a delicate balance between pushing as hard as you can and a break… If we get to the point where nothing is built, or there are more delays, that’s another day without affordable housing.” If that were to actually happen, it would be a major blow to the de Blasio administration, which has promised to “preserve or construct” 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years. Ultimately, this back-and-forth foreshadows the development battles to come as the mayor sets out to achieve his ambitious goal.
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Appoints Housing Team

Over the weekend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced four key appointments to his housing team. The mayor selected Shola Olatoye—a former vice president at the affordable housing non-profit Enterprise Community Partners—to chair the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). He also announced that Cecil House will stay on as the authority’s General Manager. Vicki Been, the director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, will become commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. And Gary D. Rodney, an executive at the affordable housing developer Omni New York, will run the Housing Development Corporation. “We are going to take a new approach to this crisis that holds nothing back. From doing more to protect tenants in troubled buildings, to innovating new partnerships with the private sector, to forging a new relationship with our NYCHA communities,” said de Blasio in a press release. “Every decision we make will focus on maximizing the affordability of our neighborhoods.” This team—along with newly appointed City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod—will be tasked with implementing de Blasio’s aggressive affordable housing agenda. The mayor has pledged to preserve or create 200,000 affordable housing units over the next decade.
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In State of the City, New York City Mayor de Blasio Promises Affordable Housing

In his first State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to tackle the “inequality gap that fundamentally threatens [New York City’s] future.” At the LaGuardia Community College in Queens, the new mayor spoke of the “Tale of Two Cities” that has taken root in America’s largest city, and he promised to address it head-on. One of the main weapons in fighting inequality, explained de Blasio, will be creating more affordable housing. He spoke of “New Yorkers crushed by skyrocketing rents” and repeated his campaign pledge to “preserve or construct 200,000 units of affordable housing.” In a break with his mayoral predecessor, de Blasio said he won’t just incentivize developers to include affordable housing units, he’ll require it. “We want to work with the real estate industry to build. We must build more to achieve our vision,” said de Blasio. “But the people’s interests will be accounted for in every real estate deal made with the City.” While de Blasio offered no new details about how he plans to achieve this ambitious goal, he said his newly-appointed housing team will present a plan by May 1st. And following a string of pedestrian deaths, de Blasio pledged to “end the tragic and unacceptable rash of pedestrian deaths on our city streets,” through Vision Zero. The mayor, though, made no further mention of a transportation agenda—bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, or otherwise.
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Bjarke Ingels Reportedly Designing Major Apartment Building in Harlem

bjarke-ingels-harlem-01 Something BIG is coming to Harlem. According to the New York Post, Long Island–based Blumenfeld Development has hired the Bjarke Ingels Group to design a proposed residential project on East 125th street. The Danish and American architects have reportedly signed on to build a 200,000 square-foot apartment building on a site between Lexington and Third avenues, known as Gotham Plaza, which currently contains a decade-old DMV building. While renderings have yet to be unleashed, judging from Bjarke’s incoming West 57 project, we can surely expect something exciting from the 200-unit apartment building, 20 percent of which will be affordable.
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Affordable Artists’ Housing Transforming a Former School in East Harlem

After a thorough search to identify a live/work project site in New York City, Artspace selected the former Public School 109 in East Harlem, a distinctive five-story building with copper-clad cupolas and decorative terrace cotta designed by Charles B.J. Snyder in 1898. The newly renovated building will include 90 units of affordable housing for artists and their families and 10,000 square feet of non-residential space for non-profits and community organizations. The Gothic Revival-style building is listed on both the National and State Register of Historic Places, and as part of the $52 million live/work project Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects and Victor Morales Architects plan to restore much of the terra cotta and reinstall original gargoyles and a large spire. Apartments range from 480 to 980 square feet with 100 to 150 extra square feet for artists to use as studio spaces, and feature large windows, high ceilings, and wide doorways. The project consists of common spaces such as galleries, meeting rooms and green space that promote community involvement. Applications will be available in Spring 2014. To assist the area in preserving its traditional Latino culture, at least half of the units will be reserved for current East Harlem residents.
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Brooklyn Neighborhood Slams Proposal for Massive Waterfront Development

It is going to be an uphill battle for the developers behind two massive residential projects planned for Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  DNA Info reported that Community Board 1 rejected the proposals to build over a dozen 40-story residential towers on the northern tip of the borough, but they indicated they could be persuaded to change their minds. The bargaining chip is more affordable and senior housing. The board would like the developers behind the two developments, Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, to drastically bump up the number of affordable units in their plans, which so far include housing, retail, a public school, and esplanades along the water. This decision is just the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).
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Community Members in Chicago Protest Lathrop Homes Plans

As plans to makeover Chicago’s Lathrop Homes become more clear, debate becomes more heated over whether the development team has the storied development’s best interests in mind. Twelve years after the Chicago Housing Administration announced its intention to overhaul the 1930s housing projects, the fate of the site remains unclear. Lathrop Community Partners—a team counting among its partners Related Midwest, Studio Gang Architects, Wolff Landscape Associates, Farr Associates, bKL, and Bauer Latoza Studio— revealed a draft master plan [PDF] this month that aimed for compromise between restoration and scaling up. lathrop_proposed_master_plan At a community meeting Tuesday night residents pressed the design team to offer more affordable housing, but it appears the ratio of market rate to public housing remains firm. The plan calls for 1,208 residential units on the 32-acre property—504 market-rate units, 400 public-housing residences, 212 affordable homes, and 92 for senior citizen public housing residents. It also includes 752 parking spaces with 259 more on the street. With parks, greenspace, and a landscaped riverwalk, the plan apparently consolidates Lathrop’s celebrated design elements. Taller buildings south of Diversey Avenue would raise property values nearby, but the stepped-up development doesn’t sit well with those who would like to see the renewal of this historic housing project do more for low-income residents.
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Scaled-back Lathrop Homes Redevelopment Plan Aims for Compromise

Its unique plan and handsome brown brick buildings landed the site on the National Register of Historic Places, but Chicago's Julia Lathrop Homes face an uncertain future. As hundreds of units sit vacant, tensions and expectations are high for this historic riverside housing project. Preservationists called foul on a redevelopment masterplan released last year, which they said shortchanged the 1938 development. Though Lathrop sidestepped outright demolition, the Homes south of Diversey Avenue would make way for new buildings under a new plan proposed by a development group led by Related Midwest. The scaled-back plan, Crain’s reports, calls for 1,208 residential units on the 32-acre property—504 market-rate units, 400 public-housing residences, 212 affordable homes and 92 for senior citizen public housing residents. It could include new mixed-use buildings at the intersection of Diversey, Clybourn, and Damen avenues. The plan, which also calls for a small park and 780 parking slots, will be the topic of discussion at a July 30 community meeting. The possibility of taller buildings at the southern end of the property has angered some area residents, who worry about development out of scale with the neighborhood, which includes parts of Logan Square, Lincoln Park, and North Center.