Housing Brass Tacks | May 8

MIH, 421-a, rezonings, and RAD: Making heads or tails of housing policy in New York City can require a glossary — or decoder ring. While we try to understand the forces shaping the housing market and the impact of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan, changes in housing and community development are afoot at the federal level. Within an hour of being sworn into office, Donald Trump’s administration suspended a FHA mortgage premium cut that primarily benefits first-time and low-income homebuyers. New leadership is coming to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (celebrated neurosurgeon and housing policy novice Ben Carson has been nominated to lead the agency) and new policies regarding public housing, fair housing law, and homeowner subsidies are just some of the speculated changes afoot.

In light of the current climate and feeling the housing squeeze, The Architectural League decided it’s time for a return to basics. Housing Brass Tacks is our new housing-focused biweekly discussion series. We’re inviting experts in to help untangle complex topics and big ideas in housing policy and development, to better understand the forces shaping where and how we live. These informal conversations are getting down to brass tacks — the fundamentals the structure this unwieldy topic — and are open to neophytes and seasoned housers alike.

New York City’s public housing agency owns and manages 2,547 buildings across 326 developments with 178,000 homes and about 500,000 residents—more than the population of Atlanta. With responsibility for more than 8% of New York City’s rental market, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is the largest landlord in North America.

Public housing is a critical public asset that provides vital affordability in a city with soaring rents and a tight rental market. The average income of NYCHA residents is $23,300, and NYCHA units comprise 51% of the apartments renting for under $800 a month. Yet, strained by its sheer enormity and decades of public disinvestment, NYCHA faces grave threats. The authority has $17 billion in unmet capital needs in order to repair and maintain its aging building stock, leaving many residents to live in substandard or even dangerous conditions — with much deeper federal funding cuts imminent.

In our seventh Brass Tacks discussion, Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, the President of the Fund for Public Housing, will detail public housing’s unique role in the city and the current challenges NYCHA faces. She will focus on the roles of NextGen NYCHA, the agency’s ten-year strategic plan, and the Fund for Public Housing, a newly-created autonomous not-for-profit established to mobilize private sector investments toward addressing these threats in creative new ways.


Coming Up:

Public Housing’s Future
Monday May 8, 2017
7:00 PM

In our seventh Brass Tacks discussion, Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, the President of the Fund for Public Housing, will detail public housing’s unique role in the city and how the New York City Housing Authority is addressing the continuing public disinvestment in public housing.

The Architectural League of New York
594 Broadway, Suite 607

Free for members. $5 for non-members. Reserve tickets by registering on Eventbrite.

Past Events:

Monday April 10, 2017

Jermain Abdullah of Picture the Homeless and Giselle Routhier of Coalition for the Homeless discussed their organizations’ campaigns to improve shelter conditions and create permanently affordable housing, which have included censuses, law suits, legislative challenges, property takeovers, and pioneering non-speculative models for housing.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

What’s “Fair” In Housing?
Monday March 27, 2017

Fair housing expert Fred Freiberg detailed the realities and consequences of housing discrimination, and explained the efforts of housing advocates to eliminate housing discrimination, promote policies that foster inclusive communities, and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

Documenting Discrimination
Monday, March 13, 2017

Discriminatory government and institutional policies and racist cultural attitudes have contorted the American housing market. Generations have been denied access to neighborhoods, quality housing, and the wealth-building of homeownership, particularly based on race and ethnicity. For our first Brass Tacks film night (more will follow!), we screened three documentary films that explicitly address the ways in which inequality is inscribed in the housing landscape: Cicero March (1966),  For the Living (1949), and The Genesis of Discriminatory Housing Policies (2003).

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

The Money
Monday, February 27, 2017

The production and consumption of housing requires money, needless to say. But where does the money to build and maintain affordable housing come from and who are the players in housing finance? Mark Willis, Senior Policy Fellow at the NYU Furman Center, covered the basic structure of affordable housing finance and the economic and social reasons that government intervenes.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

Affordability Toolbox
Monday, February 13, 2017

Since the private market often can’t (or won’t) provide housing for low- and middle-income New Yorkers, how do we create affordable housing? Housing scholar Matthew Lasner, associate professor of urban studies and planning at Hunter College, gave an overview of the tools used to create and maintain affordable housing over the last century in New York City: building codes, rent regulations, non-profit and non-speculative housing, and government subsidies.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

Hud, Hud, HUD!
Monday, January 30, 2017

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), established in 1965, seeks to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.” Former HUD Regional Administrator Holly Leicht explained what the department’s $49 billion budget supports, whom HUD serves, and how housing policy born at the federal level is implemented at the local level.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

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