One of the many ironies of life in New York City is that, in a place where people are obsessed with real estate, housing, and the ensuing discussions about what people have, who has a good deal, and what they pay for it, there is little discussion or even awareness of New York City’s housing standards. And yet it is housing standards that largely determine who lives where and how much they pay for it.
What happens when people change how they want to live and the standards fail to keep up with a changing population?
These standards implicitly encourage the construction of larger units rather than small ones, make it illegal for more than three unrelated adults to live together, make outlaws of extended families living in basements of small homes, and permit homeless single adults to sleep in doorways, but not in lodging houses or Single Room Occupancy units (SROs), both of which have been outlawed.
The existence of housing standards raises two key questions. First, as standards rise, what should be done with those who cannot afford the legal standard?
And, since housing standards and design are influenced directly by society’s values, i.e. how we think people should live, a second question arises – that is, what happens when people change how they want to live and the standards fail to keep up with a changing population?
In its Making Room publication, CHPC explores the reasons we should consider the actual housing needs of New York City’s population.
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