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.
Cracking Code Enforcement: How Cities Approach Housing Standards
This brief contributes to scholarly and policy debates on code enforcement. It identifies three key dimensions along which code enforcement regimes vary: their relative emphasis on hazards in individual housing units or neighborhood blight; reliance on proactive or reactive triggers for inspection and enforcement; and more cooperative or more punitive approaches to landlord compliance. It then contextualize this variation within the scholarly literature on code enforcement and, drawing from an analysis of forty cities’ code enforcement regimes as well as conversations with key stakeholders, explore how these priorities and approaches are reflected in local governments’ actual code enforcement regimes.
Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act: An Initial Analysis of Short-Term Trends
On June 11th, 2019, the New York State Legislature enacted the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA). Three days later, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the act into law, making most of the law’s provisions effective immediately on June 14th, 2019. HSTPA made significant changes to the state’s rent stabilization system and expanded protections for New York State renters. The primary purpose of the legislation was to limit the size of rent increases and to prevent rent increases from leading to the deregulation of rent stabilized apartments. While many applauded the reforms as a tool to protect housing affordability and stability for renters, others contended that the law changes would lead to disinvestment in multifamily housing, decrease the tax base for the city, and result in a long-term decline in the quality and safety of housing. In an effort to contribute information about the impact of the rent law changes, this brief describes the changes in a few key housing indicators after HSTPA and, given that most of these predicted effects would likely take years to materialize, identifies future areas for research.
Rent Regulation for the 21st Century: Pairing Anti-Gouging with Targeted Subsidies
Rent regulation is designed to protect low-income renters against sudden rent increases that threaten their housing stability. However, market distortions and the lack of means testing or targeting limit the effectiveness of many rent regulation systems. This policy brief outlines an approach combining anti-gouging regulations with shallow, targeted subsidies to maximize the benefits of rent regulation for low-income households.
Learning from Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: Lessons from Fifteen Case Studies
In January 2021, the Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP), the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), and the NYU Furman Center released the results of a survey of 220 COVID-19 rental assistance programs. The survey examined key characteristics of these programs and explore how certain characteristics correlated with programs’ ability to efficiently distribute funds. Through 15 in-depth case studies, this brief tells the story of how several programs evolved over time, and the rich learning that occurred in each jurisdiction. The 15 rental assistance programs chosen represent jurisdictions ranging from small and rural to large and urban for in-depth structured interviews. The brief focuses on the key challenges these program administrators discussed, the innovative strategies they used to address these challenges, and the lessons current and future program administrators can take away.
Advancing Racial Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
The NYU Furman Center, together with the Housing Initiative at Penn and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, recently co-authored a report describing these “first-generation” COVID rental assistance programs, based on a survey of 220 programs across the country. This brief draws upon the analysis from that survey, along with additional document review and interviews with selected program administrators. Based on these sources, the brief highlights several lessons about strategies states and localities can use to design and implement more equitable emergency rental assistance programs.
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.
Gentrification and the Health of Legacy Residents
This health policy brief reviews research about gentrification and its effects on the health of long-term, or legacy, residents, with a focus on renters, exploring gentrification's effects on residential mobility, neighborhood environments, and the health and well-being of both neighborhood stayers and movers. Given the
robust evidence that neighborhoods and residential mobility affect health, there is good reason to believe that gentrification would shape the health of residents.