The Atlantic Cities:
“How Crummy, Run-Down Housing Harms the Children Who Live in It
Emily Badger. Oct 24, 2013
The housing crisis sounded all kinds of alarms for policymakers and the public about what happens when families can’t afford their homes, or when they lose the stability that a secure home provides. We’ve heard about the effects of foreclosures on neighborhoods, the weight of housing stress on human health, the impact of lost equity on household wealth for huge portions of the U.S. population.
But something has been absent in all this talk about how unstable housing in any form affects families.
"The attention raised by the mortgage crisis and the foreclosure crisis really missed a lot of central aspects of housing that are likely to be important for children," says Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
Notably, it’s the quality of housing – the presence of peeling paint or cockroaches, broken appliances or damaged walls – that most strongly predicts a child’s well-being and development.”
The Atlantic Cities:
“Moving Poor People Into a Neighborhood Doesn’t Cause Crime
Emily Badger. Aug 4, 2013
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the federal government shifted the way it subsidizes housing for the low-income. Out were mega-public housing projects like St. Louis’ Pruitt-Igoe andChicago’s Cabrini-Green. In were housing vouchers and tax credits designed to disperse people in need of housing help out of these infamous pockets of poverty.
Crime rates in cities across the country happened to be falling around this same time. But many communities far from places like Cabrini-Green feared that a program designed to disperse the poor would also disperse crime associated with them – and straight into more pristine neighborhoods. This idea has persisted for nearly 20 years. And it’s prominent among the objections often raised to adding subsidized housing into new neighborhoods and suburbs (see also: the schools will get overcrowded! The traffic will get worse! Everyone’s property value will fall!).
"Crime and violence-based fear is something that’s certainly been used very, very effectively for decades in this country," says Michael Lens, an assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA. “And many of our cities are certainly the worse for it in terms of land use and equitable neighborhood opportunity.”
The New York Times:
“A Housing Solution Gone Awry
Ginia Bellafante. June 1, 2013
In the early 1970s, the architect and city planner Oscar Newman came forth with a book and theory called “Defensible Space,” which relied in part on data from New York City public housing to propose a set of design solutions to the mounting problems of urban living.
The idealism of the ’60s extended to the notion that architecture in itself could engender meaningful social change, a belief now long out of circulation and perhaps never more so than at a time when the city’s civic leaders view development largely as bait for luring foreign capital.”
Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Study: CHA residents marginally better off than when living in high-rises
By Antonio Olivo. Chicago Tribune reporter, March 10, 2013
Public housing residents in Chicago are marginally better off today than when they lived in the high-rise towers that have since been torn down, though more social services are needed to prevent a backslide, a study scheduled to be released Monday finds.
Continuing problems with poverty and crime in their new neighborhoods point to a potentially dark future for many of those nearly 16,000 families, particularly children, the report by the Washington-based Urban Institute says..
"In the absence of a major intervention, most of these young people are likely to be mired in the same type of poverty as their parents, living in neighborhoods suffering from chronic disadvantage and cycling in and out of the workforce," the study says."
Photo: On July 31, 2012 a group gathered, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, for a ceremony heralding the completion of the first stage of the new mixed-income Park Douglas apartments located on the corner of 13th Street and Washtenaw Avenue in Chicago. (Abel Uribe/ Chicago Tribune) (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune / July 31, 2012)
"NYCHA set to lease playgrounds, community centers for luxury high-rises
The housing authority hopes to generate nearly $50 million in lease payments that will be used to rejuvenate deteriorating housing projects and close $60 million annual deficit.
Greg B. Smith. Feb 5, 2013
The housing authority is planning its very own Tale of Two Cities.
To raise much-needed cash, the agency plans to lease out land to private developers who will then build some 3 million square feet of luxury apartments smack in the middle of Manhattan housing projects.
Internal documents obtained by the Daily News show the planned 4,330 apartments in eight developments are all in hot real estate neighborhoods, including the upper East and West Sides, the lower East Side and lower Manhattan.
Developers will get a sweet deal: a 99-year lease with the lease payments to the authority frozen for the first 35 years.
And they’ll get a big break on property taxes because 20% of the units will be set aside as “affordable,” offered to families of four that make $50,000 or less.
But the vast majority of units — 80% — are “market rate,” and in the neighborhoods chosen by the New York City Housing Authority, that rate is astronomical.”
Photo: Smith Houses tenant Association President Aixa Torres opposes the NYCHA plan to build luxury apartments on playgrounds, community centers and parking lots.
ANTHONY LANZILOTE/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
NYCHA Plans Luxury Housing Alongside Five LES Public Housing Projects
The next big housing battle on the Lower East Side is upon us. In the past month, officials with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been briefing elected officials and some tenant leaders about plans to lease a huge amount of property alongside public housing to private developers for market-rate apartments and retail. Last night, at a meeting of Community Board 3′s land use committee, activists began to mobilize against the proposal, one tenant leader saying in regards to NYCHA, “if you want a war you’ve got a war.”
The cash-strapped agency has been talking about selling or leasing some of its property for years. A 2008 report from the Manhattan Borough President found that the housing authority has more than 30 million square feet of unused property rights (including parking lots, playgrounds and open space). In September, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea signaled that he was preparing to move ahead with the leasing plan as a way of narrowing the authority’s annual $60 million budget gap.
Members of the City Council, including local representatives Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, have been told that NYCHA plans to put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) from developers next month. The Daily News obtained “internal documents” showing an initial offering of three million square feet “in hot real estate neighborhoods, including the upper East and West Sides, the lower East Side and lower Manhattan.”
Photo: via Alfred E. Smith Houses Facebook page.
The Atlantic Cities:
“Will Climate Change Alter the Geography of New York’s Public Housing?
Richard Greenwald. Jan 3, 2013
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last October, a renewed public and journalistic focus on public housing emerged that left many questions unanswered. Writing on December 3 in The New York Times, Jonathan Mahler asked what might have been the most basic questionon people’s minds on the topic: “How is it possible that the same winding, 538-mile coastline that has recently been colonized by condominium developers chasing wealthy New Yorkers, themselves chasing waterfront views, had been, for decades, a catch basin for many of the city’s poorest residents?”
Mahler’s answer was a restatement of our common belief. “New York,” he wrote, “started building housing projects on the waterfront because that’s where its poorest citizens happened to live. It continued because that’s where space was most readily available. Finally, it built them there because that’s where its projects already were.”
But Mahler only finds half the answer. What really drove this process was the impact of early de-industrialization.”
“The New York Times:
Housing Agency’s Flaws Revealed by Storm
By ERIC LIPTON and MICHAEL MOSS. December 9, 2012
Three weeks after Hurricane Sandy, fresh teams of federal disaster recovery workers rushed to Coney Island to solve a troubling mystery: few people were signing up for federal financial aid. The workers trooped into the city’s public housing towers, climbing up darkened stairwells, shouting “FEMA,” knocking on doors.
What they found surprised even these veteran crews.
Dozens of frail, elderly residents and others with special needs were still stranded in their high-rise apartments — even though life in much of New York City had returned to near normal. In apartment 8F of one tower, Daniel O’Neill, a 75-year-old retired teacher who uses a wheelchair and who still lacked reliable electricity, cut in half the dosage of his $132-a-month medicine, which he needed to stabilize his swollen limbs.”
Photo: Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
The New York Times:
How the Coastline Became a Place to Put the Poor
By Jonathan Mahler Dec 3, 2012
In retrospect, after the storm, it looked like a perverse stroke of urban planning. Many of New York City’s most vulnerable people had been housed in its most vulnerable places: public housing projects along the water, in areas like the Rockaways, Coney Island, Red Hook and Alphabet City.
How is it possible that the same winding, 538-mile coastline that has recently been colonized by condominium developers chasing wealthy New Yorkers, themselves chasing waterfront views, had been, for decades, a catch basin for many of the city’s poorest residents? The answer is a combination of accident, grand vision and political expedience.”
Photo: Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times
The Architect’s Newspaper:
"PUBLIC HOUSING AFTER SANDY
Nicole Anderson. Nov 21, 2012
New York City Housing Authority announced Monday evening that the power is back on in all of the 402 buildings that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, but after weeks without heat, water, and electricity, residents were frustrated and asking why it took the city so long to restore services.
At a contentious meeting on Monday night with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) representatives, residents from the Red Hook Houses expressed concern about their safety and the general stability of the buildings after Hurricane Sandy.
“We have assessed all the buildings and we did not find any structural damage in the buildings so they will not be condemned,” said Cecil House, NYCHA general manager.
Some residents, however, say this isn’t true. June Clarkson, a resident who has lived Red Hook House East for 51 years, said that on the outside of her building it appears that bricks are coming loose, and inside her apartment she believes something like “asbestos is bubbling” from the ceiling.”
Photo: ELEVEN DAYS AFTER HURRICANE SANDY, THE RED HOOK HOUSES WERE STILL WITHOUT POWER. SHELLEY BERNSTEIN / FLICKR