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On February 6th 2020, CHPC testified on the draft plan for Where We Live, the City of New York’s collaborative planning process to advance fair housing. 

Over the course of two years, Where We Live NYC  engaged thousands of New Yorkers in discussion around the legacy impacts of segregation and how to affirmatively further fair housing goals. The draft plan for Where We Live, released in February 2020, set forth goals, strategies, and actions that the City could take to advance fair housing over the next five years. CHPC provided testimony on the draft plan to help inform the development of its final version. CHPC commended the initiative’s comprehensive engagement process and thorough analysis of racial inequity in the city’s housing stock and neighborhoods, while stressing the critical need for policy actions that will set principles into action. 

Good evening:

My name is Sheena Kang and I am a Policy Analyst at Citizens Housing & Planning Council. CHPC is glad for the opportunity to testify today on the Where We Live draft plan, and eager to see the details of the plan’s strategies become a policy priority.

As a non-profit, civic research organization focused on housing policy and planning, CHPC offers to help in any way we can be useful in making these goals and strategies a reality. 

We applaud the administration for its focus on racial equity as a clear objective. Where We Live is a remarkably thorough and insightful study, drawing on extensive data analysis and the lived experience of New Yorkers to present a detailed picture of how segregation and discrimination persist, and to reach a clear set of factors driving their legacies that can be tackled through housing policy. 

CHPC believes that Where We Live can reinvigorate the concept of housing policy and affordable housing development as a crucial part of social justice which, harnessed correctly, can be a powerful source of support and value for communities. 

We also hope that Where We Live sets a new standard for planning and policymaking in New York that has been missing. It is possible to bring together advocates, service providers, developers, community leaders, residents, and government agencies in a way that allows a productive road map to emerge. The evidence of this rich collaboration should inform how we tackle the city’s most pressing challenges moving forward.

On the heels of the draft plan’s release, CHPC is anxious to see its goals and strategies turned into actions. We need to orient policy measures toward these goals, with tangible metrics for success. We need more access to housing lottery data with privacy protections in place, to gain a deeper understanding of who our affordable housing serves and how. We need detailed zoning reform actions that will serve racial equity objectives; for example, many other cities are outlawing single-family zoning as a racial equity measure, while we continue to use zoning to facilitate the development of larger single-family homes. We need to seize opportunities to add affordable housing supply in high-income, amenity-rich neighborhoods, such as the Soho/Noho rezoning. 

Where We Live has been an incredible effort and a remarkable statement of principles. Now it’s time to put those principles into action. Thank you.