Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":

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Oakland Misses Affordable Housing Opportunity

More people are living in urban areas. We all know younger millennials are choosing more urban lifestyles and rents are rising. Much has been written about micro-housing, from Seattle to New York’s Carmel Place by nArchitects. Will these types of units help make housing more affordable? The issue of housing in urban centers—especially affordable housing—is a great and complex issue. On the west coast, cities like L.A. and San Francisco have a notorious shortage. Seattle, dealing with rapid growth, is trying to do things a little differently. Mayor Murray has launched the Housing and Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), with an action plan that proposes rethinking density upzoning by 16 percent of Seattle and building 20,000 affordable housing units in the next ten years through public and private funding. Sometimes, though, it seems two steps forward means one step back. In California this Tuesday, Oakland’s City Council approved market-rate housing on a parcel of publicly owned land near Lake Merritt in a 6-1 vote. This could allow a developer to build a luxury condo on the site. The vote shot down an alternative, the E. 12th Street People’s Proposal, which called for a different use for the land—affordable and mixed housing. The E. 12th Street proposal called for 133 units, housing just over 700 people. The proposal put the cost of development at a little over $46,000,000, with funding that could have come from a mix of sources including state and federal grants.
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Renzo Piano’s embattled “Paddington Pole” tower heads back to the drawing board

Those who campaigned against Renzo Piano's cylindrical skyscraper in Paddington, London,  are celebrating a victory now that plans for the tower have been withdrawn from planning. The tower, dubbed the "Paddington Pole," was set to top out 834 feet (72 floors) and rub shoulders with the Cheesegrater (The Leadenhall Building by Richard Rogers). Developer Sellar Property Group, which also worked with Piano on the Shard skyscraper, claimed the cylindrical tower would change the way Paddington is viewed, with the public no longer seeing the area as a place to catch a train to the west country or visit someone at St. Mary’s Hospital. However, Sellar Property Group was accused by residents of attempting to push the scheme through planning too quickly. Now, according to BDonline, founder Irvine Sellar has said that he considered concerns regarding “the height and impact of the tower element of the scheme on the local area.” This came after some “high level discussions” (no pun intended) with the leader and deputy leader of Westminster city council addressing the height issues. Sellar is supposedly keen to work with Piano on a revised design. https://twitter.com/CampaignSkyline/status/693391588165316608/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Sellar went on to note that the revisions “will bring forward an amended scheme that will still deliver all the substantial benefits including the significant investment in infrastructure and social housing.” The 830-foot-tall scheme by Piano—who had previously said the only way to regenerate the area was to build a tall tower—had attracted fierce opposition with architects Terry Farrell and Ed Jones among hundreds who posted comments on the application. An online petition has attracted more than 1,800 signatures. Aside from opposition from architect Terry Farrell and local MP Karen Buck, one of the more prominent movements against the "Paddington Pole" was Historic England. “Tall buildings can be exciting and useful. But if they are poorly-designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities," Historic England CEO Duncan Wilson told the Guardian. "We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.” “London’s skyline is unique, iconic and loved. It has to be managed sensitively and with proper planning,” he added. “Tall buildings can be exciting and useful, but if they are poorly designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities. We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.” The proposal had promised a new Bakerloo line ticket hall for at Paddington station, offices, restaurants, some 330 homes and a sky garden. It had the backing of Network Rail, Transport for London, St Mary’s Hospital, the NHS, and the Greater London Assembly. Still, Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster council, was pleased at the decision to withdraw plans. “This is a very positive step and will allow time for us all to bring forward a development that enjoys broader community support and that we jointly believe will deliver enormous benefits to Westminster and London," she told the Guardian. "We remain committed to ensuring that all the benefits of the original scheme are retained in the revised plans.”
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The scaffolding comes off Carmel Place, New York’s first modular micro-apartment building

The scaffolding just came off of Carmel Place, the 10-story, 55-unit micro-apartment building designed by Brooklyn-based nARCHITECTS. The project, formerly known as My Micro NY, has diminutive units designed to serve the "small household population." The project sits at One Mount Carmel Place, a looping side street boxed in between 28th Street, First Avenue, 27th Street, and Second Avenue in Kips Bay, Manhattan. The towers are vertically striped in four shades of grey brick (as seen in the renderings below), though in some of Field Condition's photographs the brick takes on a brownish hue. The tower is constructed of 92 modular units, which were themselves built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The massing somewhat reference's BIG's Two World Trade Center, whose irregularly stacked upper stores are smaller-but-wider to accommodate terraces. The interiors are meant to make the Lilliputian apartments feel as spacious as possible. The ceilings are nine-and-a-half feet tall, and exterior doors slide, rather than swing. Seventy cubic feet of storage spaces over the bathrooms and 70-square-foot kitchens with extra fold-out counter space reduce clutter and allow for full scale movement in the space. Juliet balconies, with a comparatively generous 63 square feet of floor area, allow access to the outdoors. Each of the six different types of units, ranging in size from 273 to 360 square feet, come equipped with interior furnishings. The architects collaborated with New York–based Resource Furniture on the built-ins (like the bed-couch), and other furnishings from Stage 3 Properties through Ollie. Ollie decorates rental apartments, organizes community events in-building, and offers amenities packages that include housekeeping and wifi. Carmel Place offers a standard range of amenities: bike storage, lounge, fitness room, public roof terrace, and community room. 525 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus the glassed-in, street-facing gym, anchors the development to the outside. Here as everywhere, competition for the building's affordable units is intense, with 60,000 applications submitted for the 14 apartments. All tenants could be moving in as early as March 2016.  
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Woody and The Donald

Here is a story to file under the Republican presidential primary, celebrity, radical American politics, and affordable housing policies in New York City. The Conversation writer Will Kaufman reports that the "This Land is Your Land" folk singer Woody Guthrie lived in Federal Housing Authority–financed housing in Coney Island's Beach Haven. Those residences were constructed by non other than Fred Trump, Donald’s father. Guthrie despised his landlord, the elder Trump, and wrote several ditties (a reprise of his "I Ain’t Got No Home") about him:

Beach Haven ain’t my home! 
I just cain’t pay this rent! 
My money’s down the drain! 
And my soul is badly bent! 
Beach Haven looks like heaven 
Where no black ones come to roam! 
No, no, no! Old Man Trump! 
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home! Trump’s involvement with and creation of (racially exclusive) affordable Beach Haven housing for the hundreds of thousands of returning servicemen to New York after World War II is a sordid tale. Kaufman unearthed the story after going through the Guthrie archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He reports that “when the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) finally stepped in to issue federal loans and subsidies for urban apartment blocks, one of the first developers in line, with his eye on the main chance, was Fred Trump. He made a fortune not only through the construction of public housing projects but also through collecting the rents on them." Its a fascinating story of housing policy in New York that becomes more pointed “in the wake of Donald Trump, who says, 'My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.'” (via Gawker)

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Affordable housing tenants are renting out units on Airbnb. What’s wrong with that?

On Tuesday, the LIC Post reported that some residents who received units through the affordable housing lottery in a (SHoP-designed) Hunters Point South high-rise are renting out their units on Airbnb. Market rate tenants expressed righteous indignation, and poor-shamed their neighbors for "gaming the system." In New York City, renting out your rented place on Airbnb is illegal, but is it really wrong? A Hunters Point South Commons tenant named Nathalye listed her two bedroom apartment on the site for $50o per night, plus a service and cleaning fee. Two other units in the development's two buildings were listed for rent, as well. Designated affordable units in the Related Companies development range from $494 to $1,997 for a studio, and $743 to $4,346 for a three-bedroom, depending on household earnings. The New York Post asked building resident Chris Dyer for his take on tenants renting out their affordable units: “they should be super grateful because so many people applied to try to get in, and they should not be taking advantage of the situation. I think those people should be held accountable and kicked out of their lease.” Proponents of sites like Airbnb claim that the site fills an unmet need for less expensive accommodations in a city where the average hotel room costs $297 per night. Opponents note that Airbnb inflates housing costs in the long run and displaces lower-income residents. It's easy to invoke tropes of the "worthy poor" to shame affordable housing tenants who earn extra income through Airbnb. In May, Gothamist outlined the subsidies and incentives that this (mostly market rate) development received: "While Related is not receiving 421-a subsidies for the Hunter's Point South apartments, [the developer] told us that his company is benefiting from a 'one-off' deal, which includes a 40-year tax break agreement (details were not disclosed). As an affordable housing project, the project also got $185 million in tax-exempt bonds from Cuomo, $236 million in said bonds from the Housing Development Corporation, and $68 million in subsidies from Housing Preservation and Development." A full discussion of ethics and affordability is outside the scope of this short post. But, in a city that's increasingly unaffordable for all but the very rich, it's worth asking: are tenants in affordable units so very different from market rate neighbors units or homeowners using Airbnb to make a buck?  
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Ahead of the Tiny Homes Summit, AIA Chicago competition takes a big look at tiny houses

As part of this upcoming April Tiny Homes Summit at the University of Illinois Chicago, the AIA has launched the Tiny Homes Competition. Organized by AIA Chicago, in partnership with Landon Bone Baker Architects, Pride Action Tank, Windy City Times, and a long list of additional local and national advocacy groups, the competition seeks new modular alternatives to affordable and subsidized housing. Sited on four conjoined lots in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, the competition also hopes to engage a conversation on Chicago’s large city-owned vacant lot surplus. One module from the winning proposal will be constructed and presented at the spring summit. The competition will specifically address homelessness among young adults between the ages of 18–24, a group that makes up 31 percent of Chicago’s unsheltered homeless population and 19 percent of the sheltered homeless population. Proposals will outline planned 12-unit developments in which residents will have a safe secure space to sleep, study, and store their belonging. The brief also asks for a 1,200 square foot communal space and secure bike storage to be integrated into the overall site plan. The 350 square foot units themselves will include bathrooms, food storage and prep area, and sleeping area. With a $30,000 limit on material and mechanical systems, teams are being asked to design units that can be produced for under $60,000. The brief also stipulates that the units will follow city building codes, while zoning variances will be obtained to allow for the unique configuration of the projects. Now open, digital presentation boards are due January 30th, with winners being announced in March 2016. Jury members include city officials, architects and advocates. Winners will be awarded $5,000, as well as an additional $5,000 to develop construction drawings.
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On View> SURPLUS! explores Cairo’s housing crisis through the lens of photography

house Cairo's Townhouse gallery is hosting an exploration of Egypt's housing crisis through the lens of 18 photographs by Anthony Hamboussi. The views encapsulate urban and architectural vistas that tell the story of "housing real estate in all sectors of the economy, formal and informal, from high-end developments to state-built “affordable” housing and piecemeal private investments." But act fact, SURPLUS! Housing from the Periphery closes on November 4. The selection is distilled from a larger pool of 180 photographs called “Cairo Ring Road,” which Hamboussi collected over a four-year span. Presented as large-format prints, the photographs are universally dystopic, portraying vast uninhabited landscapes frozen in a single moment of time. Hamboussi focuses his camera on varying housing typologies, from the ashwaiyyat, desert gates communities common in Cairo, to the city's hinterland edges. For more information, visit the Townhouse gallery's website.  
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Renzo Piano designs a tree-topped, cylindrical skyscraper for Paddington in London’s West End

Renzo Piano aims to punctuate London's skyline once again. The architect behind the Shard has now designed a cylinder of glass adjacent to Paddington Station. Contrasting his Southwark skyscraper, Piano has proposed a seemingly crystalline, uneven facade wrapping the cylinder that looks to reflect its surroundings with ripple-like qualities. Topping out at 734 feet and 65 floors, the building will rub shoulders with the Cheesegrater (The Leadenhall Building by Richard Rogers standing 738 feet high). Touted for a mixed-use program housing offices, shops, restaurants, cafes, roof garden, hotel, and 200 apartments in London's already pricey West End, residents will be in line for one of (if not the) best views over Hyde Park and maybe even catch a glimpse of the cricket over at Lord's Cricket Ground. Developer Sellar Property Group, which also worked with Piano on the Shard skyscraper, claims the cylindrical tower will change the way Paddington is viewed, with the public no longer seeing the area as a place to catch a train to the west country or visit someone at St. Mary's Hospital. “We believe this exciting proposal will tap into the potential of Paddington and will prove to be a major catalyst for the continuing enhancement of the area,” Sellar chairman Irvine Sellar told BDOnline. “This site shares much of the same DNA [as London Bridge] with its proximity to a major transport hub with tube, railway lines and bus routes, a neighbouring leading teaching hospital and the potential to provide much needed quality public realm.” Planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of the year with the building being complete by 2020. Meanwhile Pringle Richards Sharratt, BDP, TP Bennett, and MSMR have all been enlisted on the projects team. “The current public realm in Paddington is poor, with congestion in and around the entrance to the Bakerloo line leading to frequent closures," Piano told BD. "This scheme looks to remedy those issues, while creating a wonderful sense of place which Paddington greatly needs.”  
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On November 10, the Institute for Public Architecture celebrates architecture and affordable housing in New York City

ipa-event Today it seems that every civic and philanthropic organization in New York City is promoting and sponsoring events on affordable housing. But one organization, the Institute for Public Architecture (IPA), has been there since the beginning of the current debate on affordability and architect-designed housing. The mission statement of the IPA promotes “socially engaged architecture through urban research projects and a residency program for design practitioners.” It’s hard to imagine the contemporary debate on housing and affordability without the initiatives and projects created by the organization. Now the IPA is holding its 3rd annual Fall Fete, and you can help by in two ways. If you have the means you can purchase tickets for its Benefactors Reception at the Neue Galerie. If you can't afford the big ticket event, you can afford a $50 donation to attend its “Friends” party at the St. George Church Choir Crypt on East 16th Street. This is an organization that should be supported by all architects who believe in the social program of our profession. Third Annual Fall Fete Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Benefactors Reception, 6 to 8 pm Neue Galerie 1048 5th Avenue, New York Friends Party, 8:30 to midnight St. George Church Choir Crypt 209 E.16th St., Stuyvesant Square, New York
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Wednesday> AIANY’s Global Dialogues tackles New York City’s affordable housing problem

shelter-on-housing Housing shortages are not just an issue in New York City or even America’s hyper-developed urban centers. It's an issue in every large city in the world. Of course, for the wealthy there are plenty of options. The shortages affect the poor—and in many cities, the middle class. These critical issues and the architect's responsibility to help alleviate this crisis is the focus of "Shelter: On Housing," a panel discussion hosted by the Global Dialogues Committee of the AIANY on Wednesday, October 7th from 6:00 to 8:00pm. At the event, I will be a panelist along with Aliye Celik (president of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization), Mimi Hoang of nARCHITECTS, and Jill Learner from Kohn Pedersen Fox. I plan to present housing from Vienna and the Austrian process of selecting projects based on their architectural qualities. This free event will take place at the beautiful Vitra showroom, 29 Ninth Avenue in New York.
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Highly anticipated rezoning for East New York to be revealed next week

There are big changes planned for Brooklyn's East New York. On Monday, September 21st, the Department of City Planning will unveil the full East New York Community Plan. The plan is part of Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio's ten year plan to stabilize existing affordable housing supply and build 80,000 new units.  The plan's goal is to increase public investment and catalyze private development in select East Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Ocean Hill, Cypress Hills, and the eponymous East New York. Compared to other community plans, there's one key difference: the East New York Community Plan will be the first to apply mandatory inclusionary zoning. This designation requires the construction of permanent affordable housing. One of the affordable housing provisions approved by Albany in June 2015, mandatory inclusionary zoning requires developers to set aside at least one quarter of their units for low-income individuals, though there are some exceptions to the rule. It typically takes around one year to vet Community Plan proposals. After the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, a mandated public comment period), plans must be approved by each of the city's 59 community boards, all five borough presidents, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council.
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Jersey City implementing pioneering 2013 Housing Plan to spur affordability, dense development

In 2016, Jersey City’s population is set to exceed Newark’s. With an influx of newcomers, city officials have pioneered a tax incentive plan that encourages new development while actively combating segregation by income. While these goals usually conflict, officials are confident that the program, Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), will meet the needs of all stakeholders. Introduced in 2013 by newly elected Mayor Steven M. Fulop, the plan spreads affordable and market rate housing evenly throughout the city by tying development incentives to the relative desirability of given neighborhoods. Though there's been no development under PILOT yet, as of now, new developments can qualify for the program. New Jersey property taxes are one of the nation's highest. Like most tax abatements, the objective of PILOT is to encourage economic activity by easing the developer's tax burden to incentivize denser development. The city partnered with researchers at New York University and Columbia to study the city's housing market intensively at the neighborhood level. According to Ryan Jacobs, Jersey City's Director of Communications, Jersey City operates under the philosophy that "any improvement to [the] land is a good idea." Jacobs critiqued the "tale of two cities" dichotomy that prevails in many discussions around balancing affordability and development. In Jersey City, he states that "that choice is a false choice, it's more communal than that. It's not healthy to have one part of the city that is growing and one part that isn't." PILOT divides the city into four tiers, each with a different tax incentive. Tiers 1 and 2, highly developed areas, receive property tax abatements for a shorter amount of time. Tier 1, for example, has a 10 year property tax abatement, and a mandate that 10 percent of newly constructed units be affordable housing.  Tier 4, by contrast, has a 15 percent affordable housing mandate and a 30 year property tax abatement. The city wants to attract concentrated investment in Tiers 3 and 4. Consequently, these zones have longer tax abatements. Regardless of their designation, there is a mandate in each tier to build affordable housing. Jersey City adopted HUD's standards of affordable housing to encompass individuals making 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and below. Tax abatements are tailored to individual neighborhoods. A special target is the revitalization of Journal Square, once the commercial heart of the city, and now a neighborhood in need of reinvestment. Currently, downtown and waterfront districts, like the 1980s New Urbanist Port Liberté, attract new residents who can afford median monthly rents greater than $2,000, while inland neighborhoods garner comparatively less investment. According to the 2010 Census, approximately 19,000 Jersey City units (29 percent) rent for greater than $1,500 per month. Port Liberté, with its canal, bike paths, and dense residential clusters, has a median household income of $100,000, compared to the citywide median of $46,813. The city intends to make the affordable housing application process as transparent as possible. Per state law, developers of market rate housing that receive tax abatements must contribute $1,500 per residential unit to the city's affordable housing fund. The fund has received $15 million dollars since 2003. These proposed developments pictured here serve as examples of projects that could be executed under PILOT. The two images at top are of a waterfront development that received an abatement (though not through PILOT). The complex is 80 percent market rate and 20 percent affordable, and  the first mixed income development in that district in 30 years. On Montgomery Street, 116 new affordable units are planned (an additional 10 units will be market rate). The complex is designed by Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT).