}

CHPC is committed to advancing equity through housing and planning policy. Work on several of our projects has made it evident that the seemingly agnostic building codes and their implementation contribute to the daily inequities experienced by many New Yorkers.

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New York City strives to keep the built environment safe for everyone—from a renter in a rowhouse, to a steelworker harnessed to a new high-rise. This is an enormous responsibility in a large city of diverse stakeholders, and the primary tool used to ensure safety is the enforcement of the New York City’s Construction, Administrative, Housing Maintenance, and Health codes. Code enforcement officers are the city’s frontline responders to concerns about the health and safety of the built environment.

Enforcement has the power to revitalize neighborhoods, improve children’s health outcomes, protect occupants from substandard housing conditions, educate homeowners, and strengthen communities. But code compliance isn’t a policy goal in itself. The city’s myriad codes and regulations address issues large and small, not all of which have immediate and outsized impact on health and safety. In fact, code enforcement can work against other important housing goals by thwarting affordable housing creation and preservation, destabilizing neighborhoods, and by disproportionately penalizing and displacing vulnerable populations, particularly elderly, low income, immigrant, and communities of color.

The current code enforcement system advantages powerful voices within a community, which can result in the deployment of government resources to neighbors with the loudest voices, weaponization of the enforcement system, or neglect of neighborhoods with the greatest need.

In partnership with Hester Street, CHPC is undertaking a study of New York’s code enforcement practices and their impacts in order to formulate recommendations to foster a more equitable and just city.

As the country’s most populous and diverse municipality, New York City, more than any other city, must consider its enforcement practices through an equity lens. Enforcement can be a powerful tool to advance housing policies that serve all New Yorkers.

Download CHPC’s Policy Brief on Equitable Enforcement Here (pdf)
Read Hester Street’s 2019 Code Enforcement Study Here

 

 

The current code enforcement system advantages powerful voices within a community, which can result in the deployment of government resources to neighbors with the loudest voices, weaponization of the enforcement system, or neglect of neighborhoods with the greatest need.

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