Posts tagged with "HUD":

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Sacramento to demolish and replace entire neighborhood

Sacramento, California’s Twin Rivers neighborhood is slated to be demolished and replaced with an expanded mixed-income district over coming years, according to plans being undertaken by St. Louis–based developer McCormack, Santa Ana, California–based SVA Architects, and the City of Sacramento. The changes for the affordable housing–rich enclave aim to test a new federal housing policy called the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative that aims to revitalize whole neighborhoods. The renewal effort comes as the City of Sacramento moves to redevelop much of the Dios Rios Triangle and former Union Pacific Railyards district, both downtown-adjacent quadrants of the city encompassed mainly by industrial and municipal uses. The wedge-shaped Dos Rios Triangle sits on the banks of the Sacramento and American Rivers and was developed starting in the 1920s as a commercial and industrial enclave due to its proximity to rail and river infrastructure. The Twin Rivers neighborhood within the Triangle was originally developed in 1952 by the federal government as a public housing project with 218 units. With the redevelopment scheme, the number of total units in the area will more than double, as city officials aim to add mixed-use density to a somewhat sleepy corner of the city. The new development will bring 200 units that are set aside for current neighborhood residents to return to once construction is complete. Those units will be joined on the project sites by 280 additional townhouses and garden apartments that will be tailored to moderate-income professionals. This scheme is part of a plan, according to planning documents, to lend housing assistance to struggling working and middle class families unable to afford market rate rents due to the high costs associated with the ongoing statewide housing crisis.  Renderings for the project depict a pair of perimeter block configurations for the new development, with tree-lined streets bordered by three- and four-story townhouses and apartment blocks. One of the project sites will contain an upgraded neighborhood park closest to the transit stop. The apartments feature contemporary massing with punched openings and flat roofs on the tallest sections and pitched roofs over the townhouse units. The new development will also bring a new supermarket to the area and is being pursued in conjunction with light rail expansion into the area. The city has purchased a plot of land adjacent to Twin Rivers in order to build new light rail station on the existing Blue Line. Demolition of the existing complex is due to begin in May 2018 though a final timeline for the project has not been released.
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Trump’s stake in largest federally subsidized housing complex raises questions for conflict of interest

President Donald Trump’s stake in the nation’s largest federally subsidized housing complex—Starrett City in Brooklyn, New York—has raised questions from two congressional Democrats about a potential conflict of interest, as first reported by the New York Times.   Trump has a four percent ownership in the housing complex, which offers 3,500 lower and middle-income apartments subsidized through a rental assistance program. The deteriorating complex has generated Trump at least $5 million of income between January 2016 and April 15, 2017, as reported in The Washington Post. The federal government has paid more than $490 million in the complex’s rent subsidies since May 2013, with nearly $38 million since Trump took office. In a letter sent on Friday by Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the lawmakers expressed their concern that Trump could increase his profits through his involvement with the complex, despite leading the federal government (which operates the subsidies through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD). The letter was addressed to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and those managing Trump's trust of business assets (namely, Donald Trump Jr. and Allen H. Weisselberg of The Trump Organization); it was also sent to Representative Trey Gowdy of The House Oversight Committee. “Many real estate companies receive government subsidies to support affordable housing, but unique conflicts exist with regard to Starrett City because the president is on both sides of the negotiations,” the letter read in the Times. “He oversees the government entity providing taxpayer funds and he pockets some of that money himself.” The letter also raised issues with Trump’s proposed budget cut to federal housing programs. The administration has proposed reducing HUD's budget by $7 billion, however, the project-based rental assistance program—which Starrett City falls under—is one of the few programs that will be spared major cuts to funding. Trump’s recent nominee to lead the HUD’s New York region, Lynne Patton, an event planner with no experience in housing, has also been a source of controversy. Her appointment would mean that she would be directly involved in policies related to Starrett City. “We have serious concerns that her self-described loyalty to the president and his family could influence HUD’s discretion on issues related to Starrett City,” Cummings and Jeffries said in the letter.
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Fate of HUD imperils revitalization of an iconic Miami neighborhood

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

“Made in Opa-locka” (MOL) is an urban revitalization plan—developed by Bonner+Stayner, a collaborative made up of Jennifer Bonner of the Boston architecture firm MALL and Los Angeles’s Christian Stayner of Stayner Architects—for Miami’s Opa-locka neighborhood.

The plan was made possible by President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 under the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which sought to address an overabundance of housing and monocultural zoning regulations that, over time, have stifled economic development in the neighborhood.

The 4.2-square-mile neighborhood was originally developed as a speculative suburb by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss in 1926. Colloquially called “The Triangle,” Opa-locka is best known for its Moorish-inspired architecture: The community was designed by local architect Bernhard Muller and inspired by One Thousand and One Nights. Muller, who was educated at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, designed the homes and public buildings with sculpted stucco forms, domed roofs, and tall minarets. Today, twenty of the original Moorish Revival structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Opa-locka Thematic Resource Area. In recent decades, however, the neighborhood has suffered from long-term disinvestment and the effects of structural poverty.

MOL was formed by the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation—a local nonprofit started in 1980 that has developed 145 single family homes for low-to-moderate-income first-time homebuyers and built over 2,500 units of rental housing in the community since its inception—as a plan to stem population loss and facilitate economic revitalization.

Bonner explained: “MOL acknowledges that building more housing in Opa-locka wasn’t going to work. In fact, there was a surfeit of housing in the community already, as people were escaping to other parts of Miami if they could afford it.” Instead, the architects embarked on a mission to modify existing single-family residences and other structures in the neighborhood in order to create the conditions for greater economic potential. “The housing had to be connected to small-scale commercial activity,” Stayner added, “and that commercial activity needed to be networked, both to benefit the existing residents and to change Opa-locka’s image as Miami’s mecca of crime, churches, and crumbling Moorish architecture.”

The architects designed plans to convert an abandoned church at the edge of the neighborhood into a performance space and movie theater. The church’s hollowed-out nave was infilled with a raked set of stepped platforms that could be used as amphitheater seating, while a corner of the building was sliced off and replaced with a length of glass wall to add a public dimension to the structure. The seating platform conceals beneath it an Americans with Disabilities Act–compliant community bathroom, as well as a space that can be used to house a small lending library, historical exhibitions, and a coffee kiosk.

The designers also envisioned converting an existing home into an after-school-program headquarters and business incubator. By removing, repurposing, and reconfiguring the home’s interior partitions, Bonner+Stayner could create a flexible office setting. They populated the space with different assortments of custom office furniture that could be used to facilitate a variety of programming, and envisioned the space transitioning from a business center during the day to a tutoring facility at night. Here, too, a corner of the building has been lopped off and replaced with an expanse of glass. The MOL plan includes other so-called “micro-enterprise” zones, such as a bicycle repair shop, laundromat, hair salon, and recording studio, aimed at diversifying the functionality of the neighborhood.

Currently, the project is languishing as changes in the presidential administration have cast an uncertain future for not just the project itself, but the existence of HUD in general. After a divisive and starkly anti-urban campaign, former surgeon Ben Carson was nominated and confirmed to lead the agency. Carson is seen by many as being unqualified to handle the reins of an expansive bureaucratic entity tasked with overseeing the United States Federal Government’s programs for home ownership, low-income housing assistance, fair housing, homelessness alleviation, and distressed neighborhood and housing development. The new secretary is also seen as a skeptic of the very programs he has been tasked with leading. Regarding Carson’s appointment as relating to the future of the MOL project, Stayner said, “The future of the project hangs in the balance due to the new administration’s moves to dismantle [HUD] by appointing a skeptic of the anti-poverty programs that HUD oversees, and likely eliminating the funding that will see the project finished.”

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Experts and academics create open petition against Dr. Ben Carson’s appointment to HUD

In an open letter to Idaho Senator Michael Crapo, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a ranking member of the committee, professors, experts, and academics across the U.S. are requesting that Crapo and Brown decline to confirm Dr. Carson’s appointment to the federal government’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency. As The Architect's Newspaper reportedPresident-elect Donald Trump tapped Dr. Carson for the position on December 5, despite misgivings from some that Dr. Carson has no expertise in housing. The letter reinforces this fact and quotes Dr. Carson's friend, Armstrong Williams, who "has acknowledged that Dr. Carson: 'has no government experience. He’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.'" The letter also discusses the time Dr. Carson dismissed fair housing as "a mandated social-engineering scheme" and other comments he has made with regard to poverty, affordable and fair housing, and the government's role in those sectors.  The letter ends, "To conclude, we cannot imagine that a person with Dr. Carson’s views about fair housing, the role of government, and the roots of poverty could possibly be an advocate for the very programs for which HUD is responsible. We believe that the appointment of Dr. Carson would severely jeopardize the well-being of the nearly 5 million households across the country for whom HUD is their only means of securing housing. We strongly urge you to decline to confirm Dr. Ben Carson as HUD Secretary." To read the entirety of the letter and to sign your name to it, click here.
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Trump choses Dr. Ben Carson to lead HUD

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped former neurosurgeon and Republican Presidential nominee Dr. Ben Carson to lead the Federal government’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency. The announcement was made in a statement released this morning, according to The New York Times. In it, President-elect Trump said he and Dr. Carson “have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.” Throughout his campaign, President-elect Trump portrayed America's inner cities as a disaster that he vowed to fix. Dr. Carson has no expertise in housing, and while the Times reported that he spent part of his childhood in public housing, that was later disproved by CNN. Initially, it seemed as though Dr. Carson wasn't interested in a role in the Trump administration. According to ABC, just last week one of his advisors said he wouldn’t accept any cabinet positions in light of his lack of government experience (which also raised eyebrows, considering he initially ran for the nation’s highest office). But Dr. Carson also remarked to The Washington Post  that, “I’ve said that if it came to a point where he absolutely needs me, I’d reconsider. But I don’t think that’s the situation with these positions.” Created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” program, HUD has a $48.3 billion budget which goes toward objectives such as: disaster relief, reducing homelessness, working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combating housing discrimination, and building and maintaining single- and multi-family housing across the U.S. To assume the post, Dr. Carson will need to be approved by the Senate in a simple majority vote.
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Ben Carson to lead HUD?

Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and former Republican Presidential nominee contender, may lead the Federal government's Housing and Urban Development agency. Just yesterday, President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted the following:   Whether Dr. Carson may take the job is unclear—according to ABC, just last week one of his advisors said Dr. Carson wouldn't accept any cabinet positions in light of his lack of government experience (which also raised eyebrows, considering Dr. Carson initially ran for the nation's highest office). But Dr. Carson also remarked to The Washington Post  that, "I’ve said that if it came to a point where he absolutely needs me, I’d reconsider. But I don’t think that’s the situation with these positions." Created in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" program, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a $48.3 billion budget which goes toward objectives such as: disaster relief, reducing homelessness, working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combating housing discrimination, and building and maintaining single- and multi-family housing across the U.S. It's unclear what Carson's qualifications or relevant experience(s) would be for this position, but according to Fox Business, we can expect to hear his answer after Thanksgiving.    
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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.
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New York City to receive $176 million in federal funding for East Side coastal resiliency project

New York City will receive $176 million in federal funding for disaster recovery. The funding would be put towards a section of the project extending from the northern portion of Battery Park City to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. The money is part of $181 million in funding for recovery projects in New York and New Jersey. The funds came from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development–sponsored competition to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, The New York Times reports. The BIG–designed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (scaled down, but known in former incarnations as the DryLine or the BIG U) calls for sea walls, retractable flood barriers, and grass berms that would double as riverside recreation areas, opening up the waterfront to create a shoreline comparable to the recreation-rich shores of Manhattan's West Side. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project arose from Rebuild by Design, a 2014 competition to solicit ideas for six large-scale flood protection and resiliency measures in the tristate area. Rebuild by Design awarded New York City $335 million in federal funds for the East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street section. Mayor de Blasio has committed $100 million in capital funding to the project already.
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Bjarke Ingels receives LafargeHolcim Global Bronze Prize for his work to make a more resilient Manhattan

The LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has recognized New York City's commitment to progressive and resilient solutions by awarding Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of his eponymous firm BIG the Global Bronze Prize. AN was on hand as Ingels and company accepted the award. https://vimeo.com/117303273 Having been extensively covered by AN,  it has become common knowledge that BIG’s  plan to wrap Lower Manhattan in a landscape berm, known as "The BIG U" keeping floodwaters at bay has been accoladed left, right, and center. As a response to the Rebuild By Design competition organized by the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), BIG's winning scheme called for a piece of what Ingels called "resiliency infrastructure" to give the project a strong social context. The Rebuild competition offered incentives to develop urban protection strategies in post–Hurricane Sandy world. Ingels touched on this at the ceremony when he talked about questions the BIG team asked themselves when developing the project. "Could we imagine a way that this resilience infrastructure wouldn't create a see wall that would segregate the life of the city from the water around it?" Ingels asked the crowd. Speaking about when Sandy hit in 2012, Ingels recalled: "Even my office was without power for two weeks, and we were the lucky ones!" The scheme has also been dubbed The Dry Line, referencing the High Line linear park in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. "Maybe we can learn from the High Line...which has become one of the most popular promenades in the city," Ingels said. He noted that in the case of the High Line, the infrastructure itself had been decommissioned and has since manifested its way into city life. "What if [we] don't have to wait for the infrastructure to be decommissioned?" He continued. "What if we can design the resiliency infrastructure of Manhattan so it comes with intended social and environmental side effects that are positive?" Ingels has attempted to answer these questions in his scheme for Lower Manhattan. Despite being in the process of realization, the project will take a lot of extensive collaboration and planning to be a success. If realized, here's what we can expect life on the Dry Line to be like: https://vimeo.com/90759287
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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).
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New York City is getting serious about future superstorms with $100 million to fund floodwater mitigation

On August 27th, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Office of Resilience & Recovery announced plans to spend $100 million to fortify lower Manhattan against future superstorms. The latest proposal calls for green spaces, levees, and floodwalls to protect the area from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street, and around the northern tip of Battery Park City. https://vimeo.com/117303273 This is on top of $15 million pledged in March 2015 for flood prevention in the area.  To further capitalize the project, the city is leveraging its $100 million dollar investment as it enters the HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition in the hopes of gaining up to $500 million to finance flood protection in the target area. All current storm and floodwater mitigation efforts are a part of OneNYC, the city’s $20 billion global warming resiliency plan. Lower Manhattan is the target area because of its vulnerability to flooding during superstorms. The objective is to combine flood protection with accessible parkland for the affected neighborhoods. Of special concern is the storm readiness of NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) complexes, including the Alfred E. Smith Houses on St. James Place, which were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Initially,‎ a submission from the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) branded dually as the BIG U or the Dry Line, was selected as one of six winning projects for 2013's Rebuild by Design competition. Sponsored by HUD, the Municipal Art Society, the Van Alen Institute, and other regional stakeholders, Rebuild by Design asked firms to envision how New York City and the region could protect itself against extreme weather. In the proposal, BIG U covered a more extensive area—from West 54th Street, to Battery Park, and up to East 40th Street—and envisioned more intensive modifications to the built environment. Rebuild by Design initially awarded $335 million to the project. The adapted plan draws on BIG U's guiding principle of small but powerful interventions that fit the scale of the neighborhood and activates public space, but the scale of the project will be reduced to meet the city's budget. Heather Fluit, from HUD Public Affairs, told AN that she couldn't comment on whether BIG's design will remain in any future project. "We've closed the book on that competition," she said. The final plan will be determined by the size of the grant received from HUD. The Office of Recovery & Resiliency is preparing a round-two proposal for the Disaster Resilience Competition. HUD is expected to share grant winners and funds allocated to each of the chosen submissions by January 2016.
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HUD Secretary Julian Castro touts new planning rules for affordable housing

U.S. Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Chicago today to announce a clarification to the 1968 Fair Housing Act that officials say will improve access to affordable housing in cities across the country. HUD finalized a bureaucratic rule that Castro says will correct shortcomings in the federal agency's provision of fair housing. The 1968 law, part of the Civil Rights bill, obligates HUD and its local affiliates to “affirmatively further fair housing,” a lofty goal that “has not been as effective as originally envisioned,” according to the new HUD rule. "This represents a new partnership with cities,” said Secretary Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Standing in front of Chicago's newly expanded Park Boulevard—the mixed-income housing development was formerly Stateway Gardens, part of the corridor of South Side housing projects that included Robert Taylor Homes—Castro said the new rule will make publicly available data and mapping tools to help community members and local leaders establish local goals for the development fair housing. He added that Chicago had already used the newly available data for a preliminary exercise linking affordable housing and transit planning. The change also allows local housing agencies more time and flexibility in presenting their fair housing priorities and goals to the federal government. Castro referenced a recent Harvard study that found kids from low-income neighborhoods were statistically less likely than their wealthier counterparts to achieve upward mobility. "A zip code should never prevent anyone from reaching their greater aspirations,” said Castro.