Planning for Opportunity: How Planners Can Expand Access to Affordable Opportunity Bargain Areas
There is strong evidence that living in high-opportunity neighborhoods can improve children's long-term educational and economic outcomes; translating this into practical advice for planners is difficult. Planning discussions rarely consider how much that opportunity costs, even though planners must grapple with the typically higher cost of providing housing in opportunity areas. This paper argues for a streamlined measure called the school–violence–poverty (SVP) index based on three contemporary metrics that research shows enhance economic mobility for children: school quality, violent crime, and poverty.
Flexibility and Conversions in New York City’s Housing Stock: Building for an Era of Rapid Change
The COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest crisis to bring rapid, lasting transformation to American cities. In places like New York City, demand for office spaces and hotels may never return to pre-pandemic levels, while the retail sector continues to decline with the rise of e-commerce. Given these shifting market conditions, conversions of commercial space into
apartments may be a critical tool for adaptation.
The Landscape for Commercial Property Conversions in New York City
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversion of commercial space to long-term housing (especially, but not only, affordable housing) remains a topic of discussion amongst New York City policymakers. Repurposing under-utilized commercial space as housing might appear as a rebalancing of land uses in response to shifting demand—as well as a way to build new housing with fewer neighborhood objections over bulk and height. To better understand these opportunities and to supplement its prior research on the issue, the Furman Center held a workshop with leading architects, land use lawyers, housing providers, and policy experts. This brief addresses some of the most important barriers to commercial-to-residential
conversions, with a particular focus on hotels, and the options for policy interventions to promote additional conversions.
Models and Questions to Reform Exclusionary Zoning in New York
Most of New York’s peer states have stepped in to promote inclusive housing development. Their experiences can inform the choices of New York policymakers as they seek to solve New York’s housing crisis.
The Case Against Restrictive Land Use and Zoning
This policy brief broadly lays out the drawbacks of restrictive land use, then reviews the current state of New York’s zoning and explains the need for state intervention.
Challenges and Opportunities for Hotel-to-Housing Conversions in New York City
As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath, policymakers in New York City and Albany have debated whether and how to support the conversion of hotels into housing—and especially affordable housing—as part of a solution to the city’s ongoing housing crisis. To better understand what opportunities for hotel conversion exist in New York City, this paper examines the legal regime governing hotel conversions to identify the most important regulatory barriers to such adaptive uses.
Ending Exclusionary Zoning in New York City’s Suburbs
New York stands alone among its peer states—coastal states with high housing costs and healthy regional economies—in giving its local governments such broad authority over local land use. The result is a state with fewer homes, more expensive rents, and starker segregation than it would otherwise have. By some measures, New York has the most exclusionary zoning in the country. This paper therefore offers a guide for New York State to follow, and improve upon, its peer states and reform its broken suburban land use process.
Breaking Barriers, Boosting Supply
The Urban Institute’s "Opportunity for All" project aims to promote federal strategies that support strong and inclusive neighborhoods. In one of the project’s briefs, “Breaking Barriers, Boosting Supply,” Furman Center Faculty Director Ingrid Gould Ellen and the Urban Institute’s Solomon Greene advocate for the federal government to tie state funding opportunities to local affordable housing goals. They highlight the potential for national policy reform to incentivize communities to take action in improving land use and zoning regulations, ultimately allowing for more affordable housing and healthier, more diverse neighborhoods.
Supply Skepticism: Housing Supply and Affordability
Growing numbers of affordable housing advocates and community members are questioning the premise that increasing the supply of market-rate housing will result in housing that is more affordable. This article is meant to bridge the divide, addressing each of the key arguments supply skeptics make and reviewing what research has shown about housing supply and its effect on affordability. It ultimately concludes, from both theory and empirical evidence, that adding new homes moderates price increases and therefore makes housing more affordable to low- and moderate-income families. It also emphasizes that new market-rate housing is necessary but not sufficient, and that government intervention is critical to ensure that supply is added at prices affordable to a range of incomes.
Policy Brief: 21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?
This brief explores the potential demand for smaller, cheaper units to help address New York City’s affordable housing need. It considers the feasibility of self-contained micro units as well as efficiency units with shared kitchens and/or baths. The report considers the economics of building and operating small units and models their financial feasibility. It concludes by analyzing the main barriers to the creation of small units that exist in New York City and suggesting possible reforms that New York City can make to address these barriers.