Archive for Publications

Urban Prospect: What kind of growth do we want?

After many years in which the everyday concerns of life — crime, graffiti, squeegee men, crowded schools, and the like — dominated the attention of city government, New York is again looking toward its distant future. From the World Trade Center site to the Far West Side to the Brooklyn waterfront, government agencies are offering redevelopment plans that envision new centers of business and cultural activity. Ambitious infrastructure projects, like the extension of the #7 line, the Second Avenue subway, and East Side and Downtown commuter rail access are being actively pursued. Even new parks and open spaces, winding over …

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Urban Prospect: Tracking Movers

More than most places, New York is a city of housing haves and have-nots. For many of its residents, long-term tenure in rent-regulated apartments provides a secure and affordable lifestyle, while for those who purchased their homes in a less expensive era, subsequent price appreciation has been a major generator of personal wealth. For young people, newcomers to the city, and others entering the housing market, however, the situation is much different. They face a marketplace that has changed radically over the past decade, and are confronted with housing choices that are far less favorable.

Data on current market conditions …

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Urban Prospect: New York’s Underground Housing

New York City’s aggressive efforts to create affordable housing have rightfully won praise from housing experts nationwide. But less widely recognized is the extent to which informal dwellings, illegal and unregulated, have proliferated in response to the city’s surging housing demand. During the past fifteen years informal housing may have accounted for as much as half of the city’s net housing creation, approaching a scale comparable to the celebrated Mitchell-Lama program.

In many communities, illegal housing units have reached a critical mass, eroding neighborhood aesthetics, straining services, and turning parking into a frustrating ordeal. Many feel the situation is hopeless, …

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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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