Archive for Gems from the Archives

Affordable Housing Trust Funds Past and Present

Former NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller

Former NY Governor Nelson RockefellerFormer NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller

This week brought news that the two government housing giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, would begin contributing to a fund dedicated to affordable housing. As Bloomberg reports, this pot of money, known as the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, has existed since Congress created it in 2008—but has lain empty ever since.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt announced that the financial condition of Fannie and Freddie, which kept them from contributing, has improved. The decision to start contributing to the fund has been welcomed and panned by Democrat and Republican elected …

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Recognizing the Importance of Community Parks

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces new NYC parks programMayor Bill de Blasio announces new NYC parks program

In October, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a “Community Parks Initiative” that recognizes the importance of the parks beyond Central Park or Prospect Park, where a couple basketball or handball courts serve as community magnets. The first phase of the plan, dubbed NYC Parks: Framework for an Equitable Future, will invest $130 million in capital funds to refurbish existing parks around the city. The plan has come in for criticism that it doesn’t go far enough.

Of course, this is not the first time New York’s …

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Creating New Neighborhoods in NYC

BatteryParkCity meninsuits

The landfill set to become Battery Park City.The landfill set to become Battery Park City.


This week the NYC Department of City Planning announced a study that will help forge a new neighborhood in the Bronx. This followed on the heels of an op-ed by Charles Urstadt arguing in favor of filling in the Harlem River to create new land area. CHPC went into its archives in search of some precedent for this daunting—and for some, mouth-watering—urban planning challenge.

Just two months after humankind first walked on the moon, the master plan for an entirely new New York City neighborhood was published. The Battery …

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A housing curriculum for public schools


 Click on image to expand

In the 1980’s housing in New York City was, in many ways, sick. Tens of thousands of units had been abandoned, New York City was still near the brink of bankruptcy and the federal government was backing away from its historical commitment to housing. HPD was a relatively new agency at the time and it had few tools in its toolbox to tackle the huge housing problems it faced. The agency, however, had a philosophical underpinning that healthy buildings made healthy neighborhoods and its staff had the creativity to experiment with new ideas. If tenants …

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Remembering the Koch Housing Plan

On May 3 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his ten-year Housing New York plan. It follows in the tradition of the housing plans that preceded it: broad in scope, ambitious in goals. Indeed, in her keynote speech at CHPC’s annual luncheon the prior week, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen drew on the great housing reforms of New York City’s going back to the early 20th Century.

With that historical perspective in mind, we dive into our archives to find the 1985 State of the City speech in which Mayor Ed Koch announced his own housing initiatives. It was the first …

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The 1951 Slum Clearance Plan for Lenox Terrace


Slum clearance

Our archives contain original copies of over one dozen slum clearance plans proposed in the 1950’s by the Committee on Slum Clearance Plans, whose Chairman was Robert Moses. These plans were proposed following the passage of the National Housing Act of 1949, which provided that areas with “slum conditions” could be seized, cleared and made available to private parties for redevelopment. Cleared land could be sold at a loss to induce developers to redevelop the sites, with the federal government taking two-thirds of the loss and local government one-third.

These plans contain detailed descriptions of slum conditions and photographs …

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