Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":

Giant affordable housing development planned for Coney Island Boardwalk

Georgica Green Ventures and Concern for Independent Living are bringing affordable housing to the Coney Island Boardwalk. New York–based Stephen B. Jacobs Group is the architect for the project. Phase One of Surf Vets Place will add 135 units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space to a 170,000-square-foot parcel at the corner of West 21st Street and Surf Avenue. Residents will be steps away from the beach, and walking distance from the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium and Luna Park. Plans filed in April indicate that 52 of the apartments will be available to households earning 60 percent of the area median income, which in 2015 was $86,300 for a family of four, while 82 apartments will be reserved for homeless veterans. The developers will build a new street, Ocean Way, to connect West 20th and West 21st streets at midblock, and all of the buildings in the development will face onto shared courtyards. The listings page highlights standard amenities, including a fitness center, rooftop terrace, laundry room, and bike storage. Financing documents suggest that the development is projected to cost $68.8 million; construction on the first phase is expected to be complete by 2018. Land around the former amusement park was rezoned for commercial and residential development in 2009. Renderings suggest that buildings up to 25 stories tall will be added at later stages of Surf Vets Place, but when The Architect's Newspaper reached out to CityRealty for comment, no employees were available to speak about the project.

East Harlem set to lose 25 percent of affordable housing stock, Regional Plan Association says

A new report from the Regional Plan Association (RPA) suggests that East Harlem may lose one-quarter of its affordable housing stock. The Manhattan neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of affordable housing, and has long been a haven for people who could not rent or own in other neighborhoods because of institutionalized discrimination. The neighborhood is becoming less welcoming, however, especially to low-income New Yorkers: Between now and 2040, Harlem could lose between 200 and 500 units of rent-stabilized and public (NYCHA) housing per year. Right now, there are an estimated 56,000 affordable units in the neighborhood. The study, "Preserving Affordable Housing in East Harlem," was produced with long-time collaborator Community Board 11. Any new affordable housing, the report concludes, should be made permanently affordable by "restructuring existing programs, or supporting community and public ownership models including community land trusts, land lease agreements and expanded public housing." The neighborhood is slated for rezoning under Mayor de Blasio's intensive plan to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. Unlike East New York, Brooklyn, the first neighborhood to undergo rezoning under de Blasio's plan, East Harlem has gentrified palpably in recent years: When the New York Times includes your neighborhood on its "next-hottest" list, some say widespread residential displacement is not far behind. Using the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) Office of Asset and Property Management, the city has managed to lengthen individual buildings' affordability reactively, though the process would need to be restructured so buildings are designated permanently affordable as a matter of course. The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan coalition, which includes Community Voices Heard, CB 11, and the office of New York City Council Speaker (and district representative) Melissa Mark-Viverito, incorporated RPA's work into their plan, which The Architect's Newspaper covered when it was revealed last fall.

With Kaine pick, does Clinton become the “urbanism candidate?”

Presumptive Democratic nominee for President Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, has been widely described as a “boring” choice in the media. And even though the presumptive nominee herself remarked to the New York Times, “I love that about him,” when asked about her excitement-challenged running mate, for advocates of fair housing reform and, by extension, urbanists, Kaine’s selection is due to generate a bit of interest on the campaign trail. Does Clinton's selection make her the "urbanism candidate" of 2016? Signs in Kaine's history point to yes and after the Republican party released a starkly anti-urban party platform last week, his selection could not come at a better time. The Virginia Senator Kaine’s career is rooted in his advocacy for fair housing policies, as reflected by his long-standing relationship with Virginia-based, fair-housing advocates Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME) and the fact that fair housing cases made up a reported 75 percent of his workload when he worked as an attorney. According to a press release put out by HOME, Kaine’s law career began in 1984 when he represented a plaintiff on behalf of the non-profit who had been turned away from an apartment application due to her race. Regarding the case, Kaine is quoted in the press release as saying, “When someone is turned away in that aspect of their life, trying to find a place to live, what a powerful difference it makes, and it made a huge impression on me in that first case.” Kaine was also at the helm of a landmark 1996 case involving the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company’s systematic and intentionally discriminatory insurance practices in urban neighborhoods, winning a record $100 million settlement that, after appeal and lengthy delays, was finally settled for $17.5 million in 2000. Kaine’s addition to the Democratic ticket begs the question, will having a fair-housing advocate on the ballot herald a new emphasis on urban issues? For a campaign so far dominated by abstract discussions of income inequality and “law and order,” as well as efforts to undermine institutionalized anti-blackness, political discussions thus far have conspicuously excluded nuts and bolts approaches to addressing urban poverty like increasing the supply of affordable housing, expanding public transportation infrastructure, and rectifying the deeply troubling historical legacies resulting from racist urban planning and real estate ideologies of the 20th century. Clinton’s selection of Kaine comes as the Republican Party released a fiercely anti-urban party platform at its convention last week. The platform, aside from seeking to keep the 23 year old federal gas tax rate unchanged in an era of very low gas prices and crumbling infrastructure, also advocates for a prohibition on use of federal gas tax revenue on mass transit projects, citing public transit as an “inherently local affair that serves only a small portion of the population concentrated in six big cities.” The Republican platform also takes issue with the new United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plan to increase access to access to Section 8 housing vouchers in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods. The so-called “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing” (AFFH) program aims to institutionalize research conducted by Harvard economist Raj Chetty, who argues extricating children from impoverished neighborhoods early on in life increases their earning potential and life prospects exponentially as adults. The program offers families who qualify for Section 8 vouchers increased funding to move into more economically successful neighborhoods. Coupled with a new mandate by HUD that considers denial of housing on the basis of a criminal record an unfair practice, HUD’s latest initiatives under Secretary Julian Castro have have placed key urban issues like access to affordable housing and an emphasis on de-segregation at the center of the country’s ongoing anti-blackness debate. Intentionally ignorant of redlining policies, like those Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company was found guilty of perpetuating in the Kaine case, restrictive covenants, and federally-backed mortgage programs mid-century whites used to concentrate minorities and poverty in urban centers, the Republican platform refers to HUD’s initiatives as a form of “social engineering.” HUD, on the other hand, views its new initiatives as upholding the mantle of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to “take actions to address segregation and related barriers for groups with characteristics protected by the Act, as often reflected in racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty.” Kaine’s impact on the campaign’s discourse was apparent at the ticket’s first joint rally on Saturday, where Clinton lauded Kaine’s record at the expense of their opponent, stating, “While Tim was taking on housing discrimination and homelessness, Donald Trump was denying apartments to people who were African American,” citing a 1973 housing discrimination suit brought against Trump by the United States Department of Justice. We will have to wait and see if this approach yields a greater emphasis on other urban issues as the campaign heads towards Election Day.

Brooklyn and the Bronx will host housing developments aimed at LGBT seniors

Two housing developments built for LGBT seniors are in the works in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The Ingersoll Senior Residences and the Crotona Senior Residences will be the first of their kind in New York City. Both buildings will have Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) Centers that will offer support for residents. These buildings will be available to all seniors who meet certain income eligibility requirements. However, as LGBT people are not specifically protected from discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, the Ingersoll and Crotona residences are taking a conscious initiative to be inclusive. Philadelphia and other cities have already set up housing developments for LGBT seniors. SAGE started the National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative in 2014; the organization cites a study that found almost half of elder same-sex couples experienced some kind of discriminatory treatment when looking for housing in senior living facilities. SAGE has also worked to create Innovative Senior Centers across the city, with locations in the Bronx, Harlem, Staten Island (in collaboration with the Pride Center of Staten Island) Chelsea, and Brooklyn (with GRIOT Circle), according to Real Estate Weekly. The Ingersoll Senior Residences in Fort Greene will the biggest LGBT-welcoming senior housing community in the country, with 145 affordable housing units. These units are much needed in a neighborhood with a median rent of almost $3,000 a month. Bisnow reports that the project is expected to cost $47 million, and will be designed by Marvel Architects. Crotona Senior Residences will be located in Crotona Park North in the Bronx. Magnusson Architecture and Planning will design the building with 82 units and an expected cost of $38.4 million. SAGE expects to open both residences in summer 2019.

This Silicon Valley startup is building a brand-new city from the ground up

Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley–based business accelerator and investment firm that backed Airbnb and Dropbox, has turned its attention towards an ambitious project that most of us only dream about during a SimCity gaming binge. Y Combinator's nonprofit division, YC Research, is inviting collaborators to research ways to build a more affordable, legible city. The project intends to find ways to reduce a household's housing expenses by 90 percent and write a full book of city code that's less than 100 pages long. The ultimate plan, Y Combinator partner Adora Cheung and president Sam Altman said, is to produce a real city to demonstrate these principles in practice. The project will be a stage for testing ideas in urban policy and for expanding the scope of Y Combinator. Although the company hasn't chosen a location yet, the firm will solicit proposals for streamlined construction, an advanced power, driverless cars (this is Silicon Valley, of course), and smarter zoning and property law. Altman states that YC Research will ultimately have an annual budget of over $100 million. "The central theme is to work on things that we need for the successful evolution of humanity," he told Bloomberg Technology. Why would a firm that funded Airbnb, the bête noire of housing activists, be interested in affordability? Altman strenuously denies that Y Combinator's new project is meant to soften the image of the tech industry, whose thousands of highly-paid Silicon Valley workers, many critics contend, are driving up the cost of housing in the Bay Area. He maintains that Y Combinator is applying its "innovation model" to a pressing urban issue. Interested? Initial applications are due July 30.

Mayor Eric Garcetti aims to dedicate $138 million in funding to combat homelessness in L.A.

Estimates for 2015 released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority put Los Angeles County’s homeless population at 44,359 individuals, with 17,687 of the 25,686 homeless residents of the City of Los Angeles being completely unsheltered. On April 20, in what is being referred to as a call to arms across the city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he had appropriated $138 million in funding aimed at addressing some of the needs of this vulnerable and marginalized population. A portion of the new funds—$86 million—is earmarked for the development of permanent affordable housing.

Though the sum is vast, there are serious concerns regarding the viability of the proposal’s funding sources. Garcetti’s budget calls for the majority of the funds to be raised from linkage fees paid by developers, a set of fees that are not currently collected by the city. Should the L.A. City Council approve the mayor’s budget, it will have to instate new linkage fees as well. Simultaneously, homeless-relief advocates consider the $138 million sum a pittance of what is needed to seriously address the area’s entrenched homelessness issues, with many calling for a November ballot initiative to establish a permanent fund for the cause. Additionally in this election year, homelessness is being seen more widely as a phenomenon directly related to what some see as a rise in income inequality and endemic wage stagnation.

Amid this context, the impact of this new funding for affordable and supportive housing could be vast. The City of L.A. is planning to use the sale or redevelopment of several surplus properties it holds to fund some of the construction of new affordable housing. L.A.’s Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), a nonprofit established in 1989 to build permanent affordable housing for low-income Angelenos, will likely be one of the organizations to lead the efforts in increasing the city’s affordable-housing stock. And, with recently completed projects by high-caliber area firms like Michael Maltzan Architecture, Brooks + Scarpa Architects, and Killefer Flammang Architects, SRHT is poised to lead the campaign to win the hearts, minds, and pockets of the city’s many powerful, moneyed interests resistant to homeless housing in their neighborhoods. Regarding the recently completed Brooks + Scarpa SIX project, SRHT CEO Mike Alvidrez remarked, “We’ve tried to showcase the architect’s talents. Good design is an integral part of all the work that we do.” He went on to say, “The city, county, and state have always made dollars available for affordable housing, but at too small a scale. [SRHT’s projects have shown that] high-quality affordable housing can be attractive and be seen as a valuable aesthetic contribution to the communities in which they are developed. Hopefully [good design] will assuage some of the concerns people have; there’s no reason well-designed buildings and housing for homeless people across L.A. can’t coexist.”

After AN contributor Peter Zellner wrote a blistering critique of L.A.’s response to the homelessness crisis, the city’s American Institute of Architects chapter got involved by convening a congress aimed at bringing together designers, affordable-housing leaders, and politicians around homelessness issues. Adding to his critique, Zellner said, “Architects and designers have to become more involved politically in order to raise awareness. It would be incumbent upon architects to think of forms of urbanism that integrate approaches for housing the homeless and articulate a viable alternate vision [for L.A.’s future] that is dense, vertical, and integrated. [We can] lead through design.”

The congress, called Design for Dignity, took place on May 6 and featured panel discussions and lectures from advocates working across the city, from the streets of Skid Row to the corridors of City Hall. Regarding the role design can play in addressing the homelessness crisis, congress participant, architect, and homeless-relief advocate Michael Lehrer said, “We have to create places that are nurturing and safe—that’s important. It’s also critical the response provides a range of types of inhabitation. Some of these informal communities are old and have deep social structures: How do you provide a wholesome existence and place and still provide space for individuals who are not fully interested in being a part of the social armature?”

With the state of California recently announcing a $2 billion plan to fund affordable housing for mentally ill citizens living on the streets statewide and the county of Los Angeles soon to put forth a plan of its own, one wonders if these efforts might finally begin to reverse the fortunes of tens of thousands of Los Angeles’s residents.

Groundbreaking for Bronx mixed-use affordable housing development

Before the Memorial Day weekend, city officials posed with shovels for the groundbreaking of Tremont Renaissance, a long-planned affordable housing development in East Tremont, the Bronx. The groundbreaking for the 265-unit, mixed income structure at Webster and East Tremont avenues is the latest spate of affordable housing development in the northernmost borough. The project is part of de Blasio's plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years: A little less than half of the apartments will be reserved for low-income families, with the rental floor for three-bedrooms set at $1,224 per month. Units for middle-income households will be available to those making up to $97,920 for a family of three. The 12-story building will include 40,000 square feet of street-level retail, as well as a fitness center, play space for children, an internet lounge, a yoga/dance studio, and landscaped roof terraces. The site was formerly home to a 1930s bank, and the bank's facade will be incorporated into the building's lobby. “Even though thousands of new housing units have been built in the Bronx, our community board, and other community districts remain with a shortage of affordable rental housing and quality retail space,” noted Ivine Galarza, district manager of Community Board 6, in a statement. “This development will definitely stand out as a good example of creating housing that is affordable for all types of families in the heart of our borough.” Bronx–based Mastermind Development is behind the $117.7 million project, in collaboration with the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) One block over, Mastermind is also developing adjacent 4215 Park Avenue, a 256-unit, mixed-use development, as part of a suite of parcels it owns in the neighborhood. Over 60 of the units in this development will be categorized as Inclusionary Housing.

State to city: No towers in BK Bridge Park. City: “We’re building anyway”

New York State: "There may be no new towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6, sorry." New York City: “We’re building them anyway.”

State officials announced this week that, due to investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio's alleged pay-to-play deals with developers, the two residential towers (which included a preschool and affordable housing) planned for the waterside park will not likely be moving forward. If the city has its way, though, the towers will move ahead.

Empire State Development, New York State's primary economic development agency, withdrew support for the agreement, citing potential issues with the developers of the apartment building. State officials noted that the lead developer, RAL Development Services, made a $10,000 contribution in May 2015 to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that supports the mayor's initiatives, like universal pre-K. RAL and co-developer Oliver’s Realty Group were selected from 14 proposals submitted to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the nonprofit responsible for operating the park, at the end of last June.

Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for Empire State Development, said: “We will not move forward with any changes until we are fully confident that all newly raised concerns have been addressed,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

The city was surprised—stunned, even—by the state's about-face, calling the reasons for the reversal "completely specious."

As early as late last week, state and city officials had reached an agreement for the space adjacent to the East River, despite an undercurrent of community opposition. It is possible that the deal can be salvaged if the community's concerns around additional development in the park, and the main developer issue, can be resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, told WSJ that she hoped New York State would “'do the right thing' and reject the proposed changes 'and all housing on Pier 6.'”

Just hours later, however, The New York Times reported that the city intends to move ahead with the towers. “We’re going forward anyway,” said Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, to the Times on Tuesday. “We stand by the rationale for the project. It puts the park in a better position to address its maritime and capital needs. And we have an obligation to build affordable housing, particularly in these expensive and rapidly changing neighborhoods.” Glen is also chairwoman of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

The park is supposed to self-finance with development like the proposed towers: A 12-story building with 188 apartments (131 affordable) and a 26-story market-rate structure with of 116 condos, designed by ODA. The developer will pay the city $98 million, plus a small annual rent, for the privilege of building on the property.

Councilman Stephen Levin and State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, two of the district's representatives, note that to build on Pier 6, the city still needs state approval for the amendment to the project plan.

RIBA takes a look at Britain’s house of tomorrow in latest exhibition

Opening today, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London is hosting a new exhibition At Home in Britain: Designing the House of Tomorrow. Focusing on three typologies: cottages, terraced housing and flats, the exhibition will critique vernacular housing trends of the past while addressing contemporary issues such as affordability, housing density and shared living. Making use of RIBA's extensive architectural archives, a diverse selection of six practices, divided into groups of two for each typology were commissioned with each producing projects and case studies specific to the task. The exhibition also ties in with the British pavilion at this years Venice Biennale titled Home Economics led by Shumi Rose, Jack Self and Finn Williams. Tackling the cottage typology, London studio Jamie Fobert Architects, who also designed the exhibition, looks at how plot sizes needn't be an issue in the 21st Century when considering low-cost countryside dwelling. "The ability to have your own piece of land hasn't really changed," said Fobert at a press preview. His exhibit which features an extensive site model of the Ailesbury East development, also criticizes the disparity between suburban housing that has been "dropped" into village contexts citing how 58 percent of space is tarmac. Also focusing on cottages is French firm, Maison Edouard François. François best known for his Flower Tower project focuses his study on a site by the Orly Airport just outside of Paris. Despite being destined for demolition, François advocated the site's reuse calling for individuality in his low-rise housing scheme. Taking on terraces are London firms vPPR and Mæ. Led by Alexy Ely, the firm has put together an interactive exhibit that encourages people to design their own terrace choosing from a selection of floor plans and facades factoring in lifestyle and budget. vPPR on the other hand take a look at how party walls, instead of separating, can unify residents in terraced housing. Tatiana von Preussen, one of the founding trio of female architects at the firm explained how recreational space doesn't always have to be secluded and private, using a 1:50 axonometric drawing and mirrored styrofoam 3D model to highlight the possibility of shared spaces. Here, von Preussen argues that as more people are working from home, a collective office space could be a future possibility while stressing that vPPR's proposal did not "impose" communal living, saying that the process would be "organic". On to the final typology of the flat and Dutch firm Mecanoo has put together a large wooden cuboid scale model aimed to demonstrate how different lifestyles can coexist in the same structure. Of all the practices, their work relies most heavily on RIBA's collections. Their exhaustive study showcases sections from Denys Lasdun's "ziggurat" halls of residence at the University of East Anglia and Peter Cook's competition submission for a block of flats on Roosevelt Island in New York. However, their primary inspiration derives from the floor plans of Britain's country estates, as can seen with Ragley Hall, where a central atrium serves as the buildings focal point and communal hub. Finally, Studio Weave from London take the most abstract approach. Their quirky exhibit chronologically looks at how housing was sold to public. Using this, they have put together a series of hypothetical adverts for the housing of the future - or of 2025 to be precise. The posters, baring a resemblance to Match.com's recent exposure in London, feature phrases such as "Meet your emergency dog walker" and "Meet your supermarket sidekick" envisioning a future where communal living is an in demand asset.

A new study from the Historic Districts Council shows that historic districts are not the enemy of affordable housing

Timed to the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, NYU's Furman Center, and Historic Districts Council (HDC) issued independent studies that analyzed the impact of historic preservation on the economy, environment, and housing affordability in New York City. The idea that historic districts drive up housing prices—and drive out poorer residents—is baked into conventional narratives of urban development. This month, the HDC, one of the city's oldest grassroots preservation advocacy organizations, released an analytic report that shows a different side of the story. "The Intersection of Affordable Housing and Historic Districts" uses regression analyses to compare New York City census tracts that overlap with historic districts with census that don't overlap with historic districts. Controlling for borough location and the time a historic district was designated, along with the density of residential units, the study found that, between 1970 and 2010, historic district designation had very little effect on rental prices and the number of rent-burdened families in each district. (There was, however, a correlation in some areas between an increase in average income in some historic districts.) Historic district designation, crucially, didn't prevent the development of government-subsidized housing, nor did designation reduce the number of subsidized units at a rate greater than non-designated areas. A broad survey of the results showed that there may be a negative relationship between rent burden and historic district designation. Significantly, though, a fine-grained regression showed "no statistically significant relationship of rent and income to the concentration (high or low) of residential units in historic district census tracts, or the timing of historic designation." In historic districts, moreover, there was less of a rental housing burden compared to non-historic district census tracts: In historic districts, rental housing burden increased by 8.8 percent, compared to 18.1 percent citywide. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, for the census tracts that didn't overlap with historic districts, the rent burden increase was 9.9 percent (Manhattan) and 20.1 percent (Brooklyn), compared to census tracts that overlap with historic districts (a 4.3 and 10.0 percentage point increase, respectively). The full report can be found here.

AIA|LA asks “How will design professions respond to the nearly 47,000 homeless people living in L.A. County?”

A recent count by Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) put the growing visibility and proliferation of homelessness in L.A. County into stark terms. Reporting a 5.7 percent increase in overall homelessness, the report counted 46,874 homeless individuals this year compared with the 44,359 counted in 2015. Within that statistic, LAHSA detailed 34,527 people living on the streets full-time, up from 31,025 doing so one year prior. The count comes on the heels of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s as-yet-unfunded $138 million homelessness prevention and amelioration plan for fiscal year 2016, $86 million of which is earmarked for the development of permanent affordable housing like Michael Maltzan's Star Apartments. Hoarse-voiced homeless advocates across the region hope LAHSA’s report might provide the political pressure needed to finally compel city, county, and state officials to act in a coordinated fashion on a phenomenon savaging a region already struggling with ever-increasing rents, neighborhood displacement, and across-the-board housing shortages. Attempting to articulate the architectural community’s response to what it views as an increasingly important issue, the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) chapter convened a special congress bringing together design professionals, thought leaders, and local officials with the aim of  developing “workable solutions” for addressing some of these housing affordability issues. The sold out, day-long congress, called Design for Dignity, also featured panel discussions and lectures from advocates working across the region to share best practices and new research. The congress was notable for attempting to place the contributions of architects and designers front-and-center, both in addressing these crises and within professional discourse itself. AIA|LA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Will Wright explained the conference’s primary goals to AN as wanting to “connect policy makers and housing providers to design thinkers; to underscore the role of the architect as an innovator that needs to be at the decision-making table as early as possible; and to set a compassionate tone of the fundamental importance of designing for all a dignified human experience.” Long-time housing practitioners like Michael Lehrer, Michael Maltzan, and Lorcan O'Herlihy represented the design profession during various panel discussions held throughout the day, pressing for innovative and humane solutions. Regarding the architectural community’s role in addressing the homelessness crisis, Lehrer told AN, “Beauty is really a rudiment of human dignity, people who have nothing understand that and [they benefit from living in] places made with an open heart and with respect. [Architects] have to realize that the things that matter in architecture matter for everybody because they are human pleasures.” Recently, the L.A. County’s population surpassed 10 million inhabitants and a corresponding and the Census Bureau reported a three percent vacancy rate in the Greater L.A. area (a Census-designated region including Long Beach and Anaheim) rental market. Therefore AIA|LA is right to spotlight architects’ potential role as innovators and leaders on this subject. Congress moderator Peter Zellner told AN, “Architects and designers have to become more involved politically if we are to raise awareness [on addressing the homelessness crisis in L.A.]. It would be incumbent upon architects to propose forms of urbanism that integrate approaches for housing the homeless and poor alike. We have to lead through design and articulate a viable, alternate vision for L.A. that is dense, vertical and integrated.” With the abundance of homeless residents in the region expected only to grow over the coming years, it's likely this phenomenon that will continue to grow, exacerbating and even deteriorating living conditions for all Angelenos if solutions advocated by the likes of Zellner are not more actively pursued across the city. In fact, based on overall tenor of the day’s congress, it would be easy to argue that the future of architectural profession in the Southland is rooted in how design professions address the region’s combined homelessness and affordability crises. In a growing, densifying region, it’s likely that—along with sustainability and climate change—the issues of affordability and homelessness will play a major role in defining the careers of the young practitioners and students of today. Congress attendee Kelly Majewski, principal at the recently-founded landscape architecture firm Superjacent, told AN, “Homelessness is an extremely complex problem that requires collaborative forward-thinking solutions between policy makers, space makers, and communities. The answer does not just lie in the building of new structures, but also in our approach to shared public space, be it our parks or our streets. As landscape architects and urbanists this is one of the biggest issues we are facing in the coming decades.”

COOKFOX–designed Bronx affordable housing with social mission—and stellar views—tops off

High on a hill in the West Bronx, the view from the top of COOKFOX's latest building plays tricks on the Manhattan skyline: One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and 432 Park Avenue seem to stand next to each other. Next year, thanks to a nonprofit developer, hundreds of lucky residents will get to take in the view. On Tuesday, the Bronx's latest affordable housing development for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families topped off. The homeless services organization Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground) partnered with New York City–based COOKFOX to design Park House and Webster Residence, twin structures that provide supportive housing with on-site social services and community space that complement the residences. Citywide, Breaking Ground operates two transitional houses (390 units) and 2,899 units of permanent supportive housing. The new Bronx apartments offer "a sense of permanence, a sense of belonging to the streetscape," explained Rick Cook, founding principal. Both buildings in this latest development, set between wide Park and Webster avenues, incorporate biophilic design, one of COOKFOX's guiding practices. The approximately 102,000- (Webster) and 247,000-square-foot (Park) structures are arranged around a residents-only courtyard; common areas are oriented towards green space. The warm brick and stone facade references the neighborhood's grand turn-of-the-century apartment homes. Recessed brickwork adds visual interest to the streetwall; up top, residents can access a green roof on the Webster Residence. The building, Cook noted, qualifies for Zone Green benefits, which allows additional floor area to be used for affordable housing. All interior treatments are low- or non-VOC, while  large windows take allow for ample natural light. The housing, Brenda Rosen, president and CEO of Breaking Ground, responds to community needs for two and three bedroom apartments. The most frequent questions she fields about the project are "How do I apply, and when?"