Housing Brass Tacks

MIH, 421a, 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.

Coming Up:

Housing Brass Tacks is on hiatus for the summer, but will resume in the fall. In the meantime, read re-caps of the wide-ranging discussions from this winter and spring below.


Past Events:

How Development Works
Monday June 5, 2017

In a conversation between two mission-driven affordable housing developers, Michelle de la Uz of the nonprofit Fifth Avenue Committee and Martin Dunn of the for-profit Dunn Development Corp, moderated by Jarrett Murphy of City Limits, the ninth Brass Tacks discussion explored the essentials of the development process in New York City today.

Re-cap coming soon.

Documenting the Last Projects
Monday May 15, 2017

We examined the social experiment of replacing high-rise public housing with mixed-income communities in Chicago through a screening of Ronit Bezalel’s 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green followed by a discussion with anthropologist Catherine Fennell.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

Public Housing’s Future
Monday May 8, 2017

Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, the President of the Fund for Public Housing, detailed 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.

Read a re-cap of this discussion.

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.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.