Archive for Publications

Urban Prospect: Heavy Burdens

One of the most disturbing aspects of New York City’s housing environment is the large number of renters who spend the majority of their income on rent. According to the most commonly cited data, over 500,000 of the city’s households devote at least one-half of their gross income to rental payments on their apartments.

While such figures are often quoted by housing advocates, there has been relatively little analysis of the high rent-burden population. For some households, high rent-to-income ratios may be a temporary condition resulting from short term unemployment or other disturbances to income. For others, it may be …

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Urban Prospect: Brownfields Burnout

At one time a leader in environmental legislation, New York State now lags far behind the rest of the nation in brownfields remediation programs. As a result, thousands of acres of property sit idle while development drifts across state lines. In the five boroughs of New York City there are estimated to be as many as 5,000 brownfields sites, many of them located in waterfront neighborhoods. The absence of codified reuse programs has had a direct impact on the vitality of these neighborhoods, and on the entire city’s ability to remain competitive with neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut — both …

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Urban Prospect: Gentrification and Displacement


Buoyed by a booming national economy, a dramatic decline in crime, and continuing waves of immigration, New York City experienced a renaissance of sorts at the close of the 20th century. To college students who might have previously been deterred by New York’s infamous crime, dot comers who might once have drifted West, and retirees who have flocked to Florida in years past, the rejuvenation of New York made it an increasingly attractive place to live. The downside of this renaissance, however, was an increased demand for housing in an already expensive and tight housing market.

One effect of the …

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Urban Prospect: Housing and Schooling

In recent years the problems of the nation’s educational system have become a primary concern of American voters and consequently of their elected officials. The concern is especially intense in large central cities, where there is an increasing consensus that economic inequality will persist as long as educational inequality does. A variety of reform proposals, from for-profit schools to school vouchers, have polarized educators and befuddled parents. Yet there has been relatively little effort made to improve the general social conditions in which inner-city students live, a factor on which educators themselves place major emphasis.

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Urban Prospect: Disposition Disputes

While the late 1990s have witnessed the rapid escalation of development pressures throughout Manhattan, sizeable clusters of vacant land lie dormant in the surrounding boroughs. In neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and portions of Southeastern Queens, many of these unused parcels languish in the city’s real estate portfolio.

Widespread tax default and abandonment during the 1960s and 1970s, combined with earlier urban renewal acquisitions, resulted in the accumulation of an extensive public sector portfolio of vacant lands. Starting with the Koch administration’s 10-year plan, the city began to dispose of its vacant properties in a manner that would …

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Urban Prospect: Attaining Home Equity

Owning a home signifies middle class status and the achievement of the American Dream. Through the tax code, banking regulation and direct market intervention, public policies have long been designed to foster homeownership. Unfortunately, the benefits have accrued mostly to white Americans, while numerous obstacles have been thrown in the path of blacks and other minorities. In recent years, however, both public agencies and private financial institutions have attempted to redress racial disparities in homeownership.

Click here (pdf) to read more about racial disparities in homeownership and what agencies are doing to address them as well as a discussion on …

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