Housing New York – Community Planning

Both Sharon Zukin and Tom Angotti conclude their books talking about a common approach to city planning; community based planning. Over the course of the NYC history of city planning, we have seen a more developer centralized approach, meaning that the city’s decision to zoning and building were heavily influenced by private developers. Such an example is the history of Robert Moses. Decisions of where and what to build in the city we’re not consulted with the residents of the neighborhood being affected. This practice, however begins to change, most noticeably by the help of Jane Jacobs and her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Years of conflict between the city, developers and the residents have led to community based planning. This approach includes the opinion of communities when it comes to rebuilding of the city in order to build a more diverse and accepting neighborhood. Zukin ends her book The Naked City with a powerful sentence that describes community planning as a way that “would strike a balance between a city’s origins and its new beginnings; this would restore a city’s soul” (246).

Such practice can now be seen by the city’s efforts to include the community in their city planning decisions. NYC’s Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is taking this step forward to break the traditional role that NYC government has had in city planning. HPD’s Office of Neighborhood Strategies and partner City agencies are working with communities throughout the city to plan for the preservation and development of affordable housing to create diverse, and livable neighborhoods. The goal is to ensure that community objectives are met. The process is described in the NYC Neighborhood Planning Playbook. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio created a landmark mandate called Housing New York (HNY), which is a ten year plan for the five boroughs. The plan is focused on creating affordable and livable neighborhoods focused on housing and economic development. The idea is that all neighborhoods would contribute in creating a better city overall. The two main objectives of the plan are to finance the preservation and development of 200,000 affordable housing over the 10 year period, and to incorporate communities in their planning in order to strengthen the city. The Playbook lays out the process that communities and agencies undergo to work together to plan for issues such as housing, jobs and community resources. It includes a five-phased planning process to identify problems and create informed solutions as part of neighborhood planning in NYC.

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