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There is a Future for Low-Income Housing in NYC – If We Work for It!

At this morning’s breakfast forum: “Is There a Future for Low-Income Housing in New York City?”, panelists and audience members had a wide-ranging and animated discussion about constraints and opportunities for achieving the goals of Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan. HPD’s Brent Meltzer, a housing preservation specialist and Assistant Commissioner for Community Partnerships, presented the Mayor’s Plan and fielded questions on density, preserving affordability, and the challenges of gentrification. Ismene Speliotis, Carlton Brown, and Lavon Chambers contributed perspectives from advocacy, affordable housing development, and labor. Some of the many take-aways:

  • We need better, more aggressive ways to capture land value to increase rates of affordability.
  • We need airtight ways to bind our housing goals and targets to our workforce development goals and sanction unscrupulous developers and contractors.
  • Housing should not be built in isolation—community planning is needed to comprehensively address neighborhood needs—community organizing is the backbone of community planning.
  • Change in urban areas is inevitable; the issue is how to manage change and eliminate displacement.
  • The non-profit housing sector is underutilized and the city needs to stop over-relying on developer-contractors.
  • Union pension funds should be freed up to invest in housing developments that their members can afford to live in.
  • We need a mix of housing typologies not currently allowed by zoning—single-member households make up over a third of the city’s households but restrictions on density prevent construction of small units. The result: single-member households double, triple, and quadruple up—competing with families for multi-bedroom units.

See two of the presentations from the forum here:

Lavon Chambers, Laborers Union5

Ismene Speliotis, Mutual Housing Association