In the Media
CHPC’s expertise has been valued for over 70 years and our non-partisan analysis and opinion features widely in the media. You can read all of our latest press mentions here.
Architect, Jonathan Marvel sees CHPC ‘s research on developing micro units as crucial in the building options for affordable housing.
Our Deputy Executive Director Sarah Watson comments on the recurring problems which thwart the construction of affordable housing.
Incoming NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is beaten to the punch in announcing the selection of Alicia Glen as deputy mayor for housing and economic development; de Blasio, meanwhile, reveals that Laura Santucci will be his City Hall chief of staff
Executive Director Jerilyn Perine praises Mayor de Blasio’s choice for Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. According to Perine, “She’s used her experience in finance and development, both in the public and private sectors, to actually drive change,”
In August of 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced with great enthusiasm a competition for the creation of a pilot building composed entirely of so-called micro-apartments. These miniature dwellings, to be packed into a building on East 27th Street in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan, would have to be marvels of design: the task was to create livable and desirable residential spaces using just 250 to 350 square feet per unit.
But Sarah Watson, deputy director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC), a research and advocacy organization that played a key role in introducing the idea of micro-apartments to New York City, acknowledged that the pilot project in Kips Bay only addressed housing scarcity for a small, wealthy slice of the single-person market. “This is not in any way solving New York’s affordable housing issues,” she said. “You can’t solve these problems with just one project.” Instead, Watson said, the project helped fill a gap in the kinds of housing stock available to single people, especially those preoccupied with living in Manhattan.
During a panel at the ULI Fall Meeting in Chicago, Chris Bledsoe, chief executive officer of Stage 3 Properties, illustrated the ongoing crisis in affordable housing in places like New York City by showing a craigslist post for a “room” with three-foot (1 m) ceilings. The upside was that the asking rent was only $1,100 a month. Legal shared housing is in chronic under supply. Kyle Freedman, CEO and founder of RoommateMatch, an online matching service, said 30 percent of the site’s users are searching for housing in the $750- to $1,000-per-month range, so the only way they can afford anything is by pairing up.
Jerilyn Perine, former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said part of the affordable housing conversation is a question of perception. Only 23 percent of U.S. households are composed of two parents living with children under 25 years old, said Perine, now executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC), which advances practical public policies through better understanding of New York City’s most pressing housing and neighborhood needs.
Micro units are catching on in Europe and Asia due to high population density, but stricter zoning laws have slowed their spread across the United States.Developers and groups like Citizens Housing & Planning Council, a New York nonprofit, work to support micro housing. According to Sarah Watson, deputy director of the nonprofit. “We have been trying to promote smaller studios because there’s so many single people and not enough legal [housing] options for single adults,”
An hour’s drive away in New York City, where 50,000 people struggle with homelessness each day and the demand for affordable housing is especially high, three-quarter homes have become a critical part of the recovery and reentry landscape. A study of the New York City homes, published last month by the Prisoner Reentry Institute at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, reveals that “building code violations are rampant at the houses, which are funded almost entirely by public dollars.
According to Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the non-profit Citizens Housing Planning Council, that could mean a return to prison for parolees who must live at their declared addresses; for those hoping to avoid the city’s notorious homeless shelters, it could mean a return to the street.
“It’s the classic public policy conundrum,” Perine told a public forum at John Jay College on October 17.
New York City’s Department of Buildings issues more than 4,400 violations a year for illegally converted basements, cellars and attics that cannot be occupied because of health and safety hazards, like poor ventilation or a lack of multiple exits.
But advocates of legalization say the point is to deal with an existing problem and allow better city planning. “We want a path to legalization,” said Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the research group Citizens Housing and Planning Council and a former city housing commissioner. “Not every unit should be legalized, but there are some that could.”
The recent Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers exhibition of real life design solutions, which ran at the Museum of the City of New York, was sparked by a growing disparity between planning codes and actual need currently, small apartments (defined as less than 400 sq ft) are prohibited in many areas of Manhattan, yet the reality is that one-third of all households are single people living alone – and this doesn’t count the large number of singles forced to share, Friends-style, because of prohibitive housing costs.
Sarah Watson, deputy director of New York City’s Citizens Housing & Planning Council, which initiated the Making Room project, says the choice is simple. With more people moving into cities (two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, the World Bank estimates), we can either build up, or design smarter. And those smart designs should also take into account that, statistically, more of us are either staying single, or becoming “suddenly solo”.
Sarah Watson is the deputy director of a non-profit research group in New York: the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. For the last five years, the organization has been studying new concepts in housing. Watson says the number of people living by themselves in the United States has increased dramatically — In the 40s and 50s it was less than 10%. Today, that population is closer to 30%. …people are getting married later, getting divorced at higher rates than they once did and are living longer. And Watson says the supply of housing for single people hasn’t kept up with this changing demographic.
The city predicts that in the next 20 years, the population will reach 9 million people. Even today, the city’s 1.8 million one- and two-person households face a specific problem: there are only one million studios and one-bedroom apartments available.
The city’s answer was to launch adAPT NYC, a competition to create a new model of housing to deal with the explosion in growth. The winners, Monadnock Development, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS will create a special building of 55 new micro-units at 335 East 27th St. in Manhattan. A full 40 percent of those will be affordable housing, the rest will be market rate. To help visualize what life in 325 square feet would look like, the Museum of the City of New York has been hosting an exhibition of a sample unit throughout the summer. The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 2, is now hosting a string of 24-hour residents from different walks of life in the space, which is equipped with a queen-sized bed, flat-screen TV, desk, couch, and kitchen table. Residents so far have included two bloggers, two museum interns, and a couple who hosted a dinner party for 8.
For the organization behind the museum exhibit, Citizens Housing Planning Council (CHPC), solutions like micro-apartments for New York City are part of its core mission. The independent, non-profit research organization’s Making Room Initiative is honed in on diversifying New York City’s housing stock and getting past the behemoth housing and zoning laws that they feel limit the possibilities.
Land-use policy has gotten little attention in the mayor’s race, but political observers say it is an issue over which the mayor can exert significant influence. He or she appoints the majority of the City Planning Commission, including the chair. The mayor also established priorities for rezonings, which the City Planning Department carries out. Promoting high-density development can add to the tax base and shore up tight municipal budgets. The Bloomberg administration rezoned about 30% of the city, with a goal of transforming industrial areas like Hudson Yards, West Chelsea and the waterfront into hotbeds of luxury housing.
Mr. de Blasio has said he would shorten the timeline for debate on developments before they enter the formal approval process and promote more neighborhood-wide rezonings, as opposed to forcing developers to seek approval for large new projects individually. Mr. de Blasio, along with others, also supports so-called mandatory inclusionary zoning, requiring affordable units when areas are rezoned.
Some questioned whether including a smattering of affordable units in new luxury towers—which would likely still need some mix of government subsidies—is the best way to create a more equal city, as opposed to building affordable projects in low-income neighborhoods. “It’s not going to help central Brooklyn,” said Jerilyn Perine, executive director of Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a nonprofit group. “It’s not going to help the housing problems in the South Bronx.”
Upcoming CHPC Events
- Tickets on Sale – A Night at the Museum On 12-02-14