CHPC moderated a fascinating break-out panel at the New York State Association for Affordable Housing Conference that took place at the Times Square Marriot Marquis last week.

The session, entitled “Shifting Demographics: How to House a Changing Population” was moderated by Executive Director Jerilyn Perine and began with CHPC Policy Analyst, Sarah Watson, presenting our data model that analyzes and re-categorizes New York City’s households to examine how New Yorkers are really living today. The data revealed the extraordinary prevalence of single person households in the New York City housing market, and their struggles to fit into a housing stock that is mostly designed for families.

The panel then debated many different impacts of the rise of single people in the housing market, from the elderly to new tech entrepreneurs, and how housing policy and the development  industry can work to provide better solutions for this growing population.

When asked by Jerilyn Perine, if they could wave their magic housing policy wand, what one change they would make to improve the housing situation for single people, the answers were illuminating!

Matthew Blesso, Blesso Properties – Policy should focus on basic health and safety and not dictating people’s individual options for how they want to live.

Maya Brennan, Center for Housing Policy – There should be more flexible funding options for the development of housing and provision of on-site services for the single elderly population, including through Medicare and Medicaid.

Chris Cirillo, The Richman Group Development Corporation –We should get to a point in thinking about green and sustainable development where we look beyond simply meeting the requirements of LEED or other rating systems or focusing on specific green materials and building systems.  We need to see providing densely-developed housing for singles and other small households in transit-rich settings as one of the best ways to build green.

Kaye Matheny, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development – new technologies have been developed for buildings to provide more options for light and air. This means that smaller housing units are now possible and we can re-think policy to support this.

Sarah Watson, CHPC – Eradicate occupancy rules from every law and code in New York. They are all worded differently, which is confusing, but basically it is not permitted for more than 3 unrelated adults to live together. This acts as handcuffs on the development and design community from providing safe and legal shared housing for single adults.