City to Cut Population in UWS Shelter | Demolition Freeze in NYC | Parking Regulations and Housing

April 15th 2014

(credit: New York Magazine)

  1. City to cut homeless population at controversial UWS shelter by half A controversial shelter that opened in 2012 will have its homeless population reduced by half toward the end of the year under an agreement city leaders reached with the Department of Homeless Services. Nearly two years ago, the department opened Freedom House as an emergency shelter on West 95th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, in a move residents and leaders described as done without community buy-in or discussion. [DNAinfo – 04/14/14]
  2. Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city A politician’s proposal to protect the thousands of older buildings in New York that face demolition each year has triggered a backlash not just among powerful developers, but also among construction unions and advocates for affordable housing who fear the measure could drastically curb residential construction in the city. The storm began on April 4 at a protest outside the stately, likely-to-be-razed Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street, when Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer pledged to do more to prevent such losses in the future. She offered to introduce a bill that would require a 30-day review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of any demolition permit filed for a building over 50 years old. The measure would apply to nearly 80% of the city’s structures and 91% of those in Manhattan, according to city data. [Crain’s New York – 04/14/14]
  3. How free parking is screwing up our cities Meanwhile, according to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, the negative costs of cheap parking disproportionately affect low-income residents of cities, even though they are less likely than richer residents to own cars, because tying up space in this way restricts the housing supply and pushes up housing costs to which low-income households must devote a larger percentage of their income. [U.S. News & World Report – 04/11/14]
  4. People are literally living down under the Manhattan bridge overpass The New York Post has a sad story that gives new meaning to DUMBO: The paper reports that some people are actually sleeping in the Manhattan Bridge near the Manhattan entrance. Their “coffin-sized living spaces” are built below the upper deck’s car traffic and above the subway and bike lanes. The cramped homes are about ten feet-by-one-and-a-half feet, secured with bike locks and bolted to a metal beam. [New York Magazine – 04/13/14]
  5. Firms building city-backed affordable housing repeatedly caught cheating workers out of wages The mayor’s campaign to build more affordable apartments has a dirty little underbelly: Many of the contractors who build cheaper units have been cited repeatedly for cheating workers out of a decent wage, a Daily News investigation has found. Last week, Mayor de Blasio promised to ‘lift up working families’ with soon-to-be built affordable apartments the city is sponsoring on a vacant lot in Brownsville, Brooklyn. But at an affordable housing project a few blocks away, builder MDG Design and subcontractor F. Rizos, settled federal wage-cheating charges in April 2013 by agreeing to pay $960,000 in back wages. [New York Daily News – 04/14/14]
  6. Coalition urges mayor de Blasio to prioritize a more sustainable NYC. The first action item is to build affordably and sustainably. On May 1st, de Blasio will announce the details of his plan to create and maintain 200,000 affordable housing units over the next 10 years. The coalition recommends that this plan should integrate strategies for sustainability and resiliency, such as prioritizing transit-oriented development and integrating parks. [The Epoch Times – 04/12/14]
  7. Brooklyn lawmakers push to criminalize ‘rent sabotage’ A bill in the state legislature would criminalize the act of ‘rent sabotage,’ making it a felony for landlords to destroy their own buildings in the hopes of forcing out tenants living in rent-controlled units.The measure was introduced this month following continued reports of hostilities between renters and property owners in increasingly gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods. Tenants who’ve spent many years in the same apartments without problems have accused landlords of sending in men with sledgehammers and power saws to make the properties unliveable. [Capital New York – 04/14/14]
  8. Housing industry asks $5 trillion question: what does Watt want? The U.S. housing industry has waited three months to find out how Mel Watt will govern taxpayer-owned mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and has been frustrated by his silence. The former 11-term congressman from North Carolina, who took over the agency that oversees the two enterprises in January, has not delivered an annual strategic plan, which would usually be public by now. [Reuters – 04/14/14]
  9. Next residents of a luxury building: police horses. This summer, Inspector Gelbman will move the unit’s headquarters and a dozen of its horses and 20 officers into their new home on the ground floor of Mercedes House, which since 2011 has been home to about 1,000 humans. After a decade, the mounted unit is leaving behind its stables at Pier 76, now a part of Hudson River Park. [The New York Times – 04/14/14]
  10. The world’s cities are gobbling up land faster than they’re gaining people. This trend is closely related to another phenomenon: Globally, household growth is expanding much faster than population growth. That means the literal number of homes on the planet—each requiring land, energy and infrastructure—is expanding faster than the number of people. The average household in developed countries had five residents in the late 1800s. Now it has 2.5, suggesting that we need twice as many homes now to house the same number of people. [The Washington Post – 04/14/14]
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