Archive for Gems from the Archives

Fighting Housing Discrimination By Executive Order

President John F. Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy recognized the need to expand the role of the federal government in protecting the rights of Americans to access housing. Citing the Housing Act of 1949, the last major federal law related to housing, Kennedy issued Executive Order 11063 for “the realization as soon as feasible of the goal of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.” In it, he ordered every federal department to take action to protect Americans of all races, religions, and nations of birth from discrimination.

The executive order was framed …

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Housing on the Ballot

The 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. Photo: Library of Congress
The 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. Photo: Library of CongressThe 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. Photo: Library of Congress

As we plunge into the final day of the 2016 presidential race, CHPC decided to look back into our archives for some grounding and perspective. Our curiosity led us to the fall of 1964, which was headlined by the landslide re-election of President Lyndon B. Johnson over the challenge of Barry Goldwater.

At the local level, New York City was in the early stages of the depopulation and decay that marked the city a decade later. John V. Lindsay, a liberal Republican, was running for what would be …

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Why Do Tenants Move?

Moving: not everyone's favorite activity.Moving: not everyone’s favorite activity.

Learning the reasons why households move is one of the holy grails of housing research. Along with how many housing units get built every year and how many New Yorkers live in informal apartments, this is one question without a satisfactory answer. In 1940, CHPC—or the Citizens’ Housing Council, as it was then known—tried to figure it out.

Much ado gets made these days about the displacement of tenants as rents rise in our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, a scarcity of data leads to unproductive conversations in which people speak either past each other or in circles.…

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Zoning in the City

The New York City Planning Commission in September, 2015. Image: Noticing New YorkThe New York City Planning Commission in September, 2015. Image: Noticing New York

The New York City government is campaigning to adopt two well-publicized amendments to the city’s Zoning Resolution. These amendments, which the NYC Department of City Planning refers to as Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), are considered keystones to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s broader plan to create affordable housing and stimulate diversity of incomes in neighborhoods.

The ZQA and MIH amendments have met with strong opposition at the community level. The vast majority of community boards who took an official stance …

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The Pedestrianization of Times Square

A drawing of the proposed Broadway Plaza, 1974.A drawing of the proposed Broadway Plaza, 1974.

This week has witnessed a kerfuffle around Times Square. From complaints about topless women in the pedestrian plaza, concerns have now become existential for the plaza itself as Mayor Bill de Blasio has suggested it might be time to return the space to the use of cars. We dug into the CHPC archives to find out more about the “pedestrianization” of Times Square.

Of course, the removal of cars from Times Square is considered one of the more memorable urban planning achievements of de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. But it …

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Contentious Redevelopment in Harlem

The Polo Grounds Houses in Harlem. Photo: NY Daily NewsThe Polo Grounds Houses in Harlem. Photo: NY Daily News

Discrimination and segregation in housing have been the subjects of national conversation in recent weeks. First, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in a fair housing case emanating from Texas. Following that, there was news of a lawsuit against New York City alleging that its practice of setting aside apartments in new subsidized buildings for local residents perpetuates discrimination.

Sadly but unsurprisingly, even a quick search of “discrimination” or “segregation” in the CHPC archives yields a trove of historical records, documents, and policy discussions.

One example from 1960s …

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