The Process of Preservation: Marketing to Property Owners to Maintain Affordability

“HOUSING NEW YORK,” the banners scream in capital letters. Walking around New York City, one sees these blue and white signs hanging on scaffolding in front of new construction. They promote the Mayor’s signature housing plan and bear the logo of the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development(HPD). These buildings contain at least some new affordable housing units, which are part of the mythical affordable housing lottery that is a luckier draw than most actual lotto tickets. When New Yorkers think of affordable housing, they think of the struggling public housing authority (NYCHA) or of these newly constructed units. Note, however, that development is only one half of the equation in HPD’s name. As the agency marches on towards an ambitious goal of 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026, two-thirds of the units achieved so far have been through preservation. No banners hang in front of buildings with preserved affordable housing, but they are fundamental to keeping New Yorkers in their homes as costs of living continue to rise.

When cash-strapped landlords need to make improvements to their buildings, they turn to HPD as a lender of last resort. HPD is happy to provide financing with generous terms, but it comes with strings; the property owners must agree to offer rents affordable to designated Area Median Income (AMI) bands. While many of the agency’s programs are geared toward larger buildings where they can maximize impact, some are geared towards small and medium-sized buildings. Owners of smaller properties, however, are unaware that these programs are available to them. They are usually not professional property managers and may own only one or a few properties. Continue reading “The Process of Preservation: Marketing to Property Owners to Maintain Affordability”

Undesigning the Redline in the Bronx and Beyond

In 1938 — as the New Deal infused capital into cities and Robert Moses molded New York — the federal Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) carved America into the unequal landscapes it is today. In the Bronx, my home borough of New York City, it granted the Riverdale and Fieldston neighborhoods its green, first grade, type A status. HOLC recognized that Riverdale and Fieldston were of the newest, most suburban, and most secure of neighborhoods for real estate investment. They were most desirable for what they did not have: communities of color. HOLC’s forms lay it bare:

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Planning by the Book: HPD and the Neighborhood Planning Playbook

City of New York interagency collaboration shown through a section diagram calling out different agencies relevance to everyday lifeThis post is the second of five appearing on the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Community Service Fellowship Program (CSFP) blog, describing my summer working as Neighborhood Planning Intern at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

“A truly democratic planning process is both inclusionary and transparent,” said Frances A. Resheke, then Board Secretary of the Municipal Art Society, when introducing a session on the City of New York’s Neighborhood Planning Playbook in 2015. I can think of no better way to introduce the Playbook myself. Introduced at the end of that year, the document creates the framework for a planning process that encourages collaboration between city agencies and with local communities. The Neighborhood Planning team at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) takes this namesake process and playbook seriously, looking back at it constantly to make sure that we are studying neighborhoods in a well-managed, clearly articulated way. Continue reading “Planning by the Book: HPD and the Neighborhood Planning Playbook”

Why I’m Working on Housing New York This Summer

This post is the first of five appearing on the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Community Service Fellowship Program (CSFP) blog, describing my summer working as Neighborhood Planning Intern at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

New York claims to be a welcoming city, but all the pride flags and Black Lives Matter stickers and “immigrant and refugees are welcome here” signs fly in the face of our exclusionary financial pressures. Our city has a “right to shelter” law, but is struggling to accommodate demand not just from the homeless but also the more fortunate. Neighborhood after neighborhood sees sea change. People clinging onto the only homes they know are harassed by rising rents, conveniently inconvenient construction, the deprivation of heat and hot water, and a host of other bad behaviors.

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is on the forefront of this battle, helping tenants keep their footing as the sand shifts under their feet. The agency develops and preserves affordable housing, protects tenants from harassment, ensures the safety of homes, and engages neighborhoods in planning their futures. Continue reading “Why I’m Working on Housing New York This Summer”

New Yorkers, Vote Because Your Lives Depend on It

Make your mark.  Vote.  From the NYC Votes/the New York City Campaign Finance Board.As anyone who lives in New York is aware, it’s municipal election season.  The mayoral race, holding the most political power, has attracted the most attention.  The mayoral race has also received nationwide publicity due to a scandalous candidate, which also helped elevate the comptroller’s race into visibility.  There are many other positions up for grabs, however, including Public Advocate, Borough President, and City Council.  It’s easy to brush these elections off, but New Yorkers should take them seriously; your lives hang in the balance. Continue reading “New Yorkers, Vote Because Your Lives Depend on It”

Are Socially Mobile Techies Made in NY?

Join thousands of educators around the world, including none in most of New York’s disadvantaged communities.

Codecademy is #MadeInNY. If you don’t know what Codecademy is yet, you really should. Codecademy is a company that seeks to truly disrupt education rather than incrementally altering classrooms, primarily teaching programming at the moment. If you don’t know what Made in New York is, then you’ll have disappointed the lovely folks at NYC Digital. We Are Made In New York “an economic development initiative that supports the city’s vibrant tech community.”

A page on the Codecademy website dedicated to after-school programming, encourages educators to begin a coding club at their school using the site’s resources. Although an educator visiting the page likely already knows this, the page makes the value of such an activity clear, placing it in <strong> terms: “Digital literacy is now a fundamental skill like reading and writing.” Continue reading “Are Socially Mobile Techies Made in NY?”