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Thread: Public Housing in NYC

  1. #76
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Superblocks were a bad idea....

    I really do not know why they thought they needed to do that. Was it because they liked a bunch of green space that really could not be used for much?


    *shrug*

  2. #77
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default 1070 Washington Avenue, Morrisania, Bronx

    Small Project Boosts Public Housing

    By LAURA KUSISTO

    A developer will break ground Friday on a modest 49-unit development in the Morrisania section of the Bronx that some hope has greater significance: as a model for building public housing despite funding constraints.

    The project at 1070 Washington Ave. marks the first time in years that public housing units have been built on privately owned land.

    While the Bloomberg administration has overseen the creation of more than 130,000 new units of "affordable" housing—some of which have been tucked into market-rate developments—construction of public housing has been modest, experts say.

    Public housing units are funded entirely by the government for low-income residents, most prominently the massive apartment complexes that sprouted in the 1940s through 1960s. Affordable housing projects are a partnership between the city and for-profit or not-for-profit developers targeting tenants of certain income levels.

    But recently, the New York City Housing Authority, which oversees 334 public housing developments, has moved to collaborate more with other government agencies and now private developers in the creation of new public and affordable housing.

    "Our goal is to have an increasingly wide range of partners," said housing authority Chairman John Rhea. "We're using resources to spur economic development in low-income, underserved areas and allow for substantial increases of affordable housing development."

    The developer breaking ground Friday, Bronx Pro Group, went into contract on the site at 1070 Washington in 2007, in a former industrial area that is sprouted a number of affordable housing projects following a rezoning in 2003. The developer also built a 90-unit project, including a Dream Yard art center, across the street at 1085 Washington.

    Due to the economic downturn and certain restrictions on the site, Bronx Pro quickly realized the project would be tougher to get off the ground than the firm originally thought. As a result it sought more sources of funding.

    The total cost of development is $21.7 million, which includes, in part, $4.7 million from the housing authority; more than $4 million from the city Housing Preservation and Development Department; and a $12.5 million from the low-income housing tax credit provided by Enterprise, an affordable housing group.

    In an unusual move, even the Bronx borough presidents' office will provide $575,000 to help add environmental features, including a rooftop garden and fiberglass windows.

    "There's the need to marry different types of funding and that's got increasingly complicated," said Abby Jo Sigal, a vice president at Enterprise.

    The project is expected to be completed in October 2013 and will include 21 units of public housing for people currently on the housing authority's waiting list, as well as 27 units of low-income housing. In addition, 10 of the affordable units will be set aside for high-risk populations, likely the homeless and veterans.

    The collaboration between the housing authority and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is expected to provide properties for 6,000 units, including 2,035 units that have been built since 2003, with an additional 445 units under construction.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...LEFTTopStories

  3. #78
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    With Public Housing Under Attack, Can An Ex-Lehman Banker Save New York’s Last Affordable Apartments?

    Bigger than Boston, dicier than Detroit, NYCHA is a city unto itself, and John Rhea is its mayor—and traffic cop and garbage man and teacher.

    By Matt Chaban



    Stepping off the elevator on the 12th floor of 250 Broadway, you pass by a dozen photographs of idyllic, almost bucolic housing projects. The dogwoods are in bloom, matching the pink matting within the frames. That the pictures are a bit faded only adds to the utopianism of the scenes: families frolic in green grass courtyards, the sun is always shining.

    These days, the picture is far less rosy: Apartments are overcome with toxic black mold, riven with cavernous leaks, overrun with rats, sometimes all three and then some. Repairs?

    Fuggetaboutit. Those will be years away. And that’s just inside; outside, it’s a war zone.

    Or so the city’s tabloids would have you believe.

    But the Housing Authority—or NYCHA, as almost everyone calls it, pronouncing it like some bureaucratic sneeze—represents much more than those run-down apartments we read about, of which there are fewer than the coverage suggests.

    With more than 420,000 residents, NYCHA has a population that surpasses Atlanta. Factor in the 232,000 people who receive Section 8 vouchers, which NYCHA oversees, and it is larger than Denver, Seattle or Boston. The difference is that this mythical city would be made up of only the very worst neighborhoods—a world of Brownsvilles and Stapletons and Mott Havens without the Park Slopes and Upper East Sides to support them. This is both NYCHA’s biggest problem and its greatest virtue, a blessing and a curse passed down from Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia and Franklin Roosevelt. Despite the eternal outcry over NYCHA’s shortcomings, most agree that the neighborhoods the projects inhabit would be even worse off without them. Who else is going to provide so many residents with affordable, if not always attractive, housing, in a city that has less and less?

    Which is why the agency’s decline is so frustrating to so many. None more so than John Rhea, the man Mayor Bloomberg charged three years ago with fixing the problems—so many problems spread among so much real estate: 178,000 apartments in 334 complexes scattered across all five boroughs.

    Of average height and trim build, Mr. Rhea still dresses like he’s headed to work at his last job, as a managing director at Barclays. On the morning of a two-hour interview with The Observer in the chairman’s conference room (as the sign outside the door said), his suit had a fine pinstripe. He wore a white shirt and red tie patterned with tiny Barrel of Monkey monkeys, hand-in-hand.

    While he refuses to believe NYCHA’s troubles are intractable, he admits they are grave. “To me, the problem with NYCHA is gridlock. It’s no one actor but things piling up,” Mr. Rhea said. “It starts with an accident, then people are blocking the intersection, one truck is sticking out a little too far so one lane is jammed down. Everyone is trying to merge into fewer lanes. The traffic lights aren’t changing.” Mr. Rhea sees himself as public housing’s traffic cop.

    As if trapped in Bizarro World, NYCHA’s story runs counter to the city’s resurgence of the past two decades. When New York was in decline, the housing authority remained, thanks to federal largesse, a shining beacon of hope in the city even as everything around it was consumed. Now the situation has flipped. As the city swells, NYCHA has been suffering, thanks largely to neglect in Washington, where almost all of the authority’s funds come from.

    In many ways, the debate surrounding NYCHA mirrors those raging throughout the country over the role of government in society.

    “It was the place to be, everyone was always hanging out at our place,” said City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, who grew up in the Williamsburg Houses, New York’s second oldest housing development (the complex was even made a city landmark in 2003). “Even when the city started to get really bad in the ’70s and ’80s, NYCHA still had it all.”

    Now representing the East Village and the Lower East Side, Ms. Mendez has one of the largest tracts of public housing in her district. Since joining the council in 2006, she has chaired its public housing committee. She is a fierce advocate and frequent critic of NYCHA, but she is also quick to credit Mayor Bloomberg for supporting the authority when few others will.

    “When John Rhea came in, I was skeptical,” she said. “I didn’t think we needed a banker, but I have to say, he’s done a good job. We’re seeing progress, but I don’t know if it’s enough. Given the situation we’re in, I don’t know if any one person could fix it.”

    2 3 4 5 6


    http://observer.com/2012/09/john-rhe...ington-crisis/

  4. #79
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    Not sure if this is the right thread, but the Elliott Chelsea, next to the Chelsea-Elliott Houses

    9/12/12


  5. #80
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Looks like Gotham West looks like Avalon Wherever looks like 80% of what's going up all over NYC. And not in a good or interesting way.

  6. #81
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Not good, but not bad either.

    Better than a HoJo or Best Western and definitely better than Kaufmann, but "prefab" is the only thing that comes to mind when looking at it....

  7. #82
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    Walkabout: The Williamsburg Houses, Part 1


    Money, real estate, and housing. These have been three of the factors that founded this city, and have continued to build it, and drive it, ever since Europeans landed on these shores. The history of housing in this city is rather fascinating, but like housing almost everywhere since the dawn of civilization, it boils down to the rich living really well, the middle classes living decently, and the poor living in various degrees of squalor. Social reformers have long realized that having a decent roof over one’s head is not only necessary for life, but should be a given in a modern civilized society. By the Victorian era, this was an admirable goal, but here in New York City, it rarely came into being.

    As more and more poor immigrants came to this country at the end of the 19th century, they joined the already large mass of poor people already here, people crowded into horrific living conditions we really can’t imagine today. Government standards for housing were rather lax, and tenements were usually human warehouses, with inadequate light, ventilation, sanitation or room. Landlords didn’t care as long as the rent was paid, and fortunes were made from this substandard housing. As horrible as conditions were, landlords knew people would still rent; they had to live somewhere. Here in Brooklyn, enlightened reformers and businessmen like Alfred Tredway White and Charles Pratt built model tenements and worker’s housing that was a world away from the norm, but their efforts were anomalies, and while lauded, were not generally repeated.

    By the first decade of the 20th century, laws were passed in the city regarding tenement conditions. These laws dictated standards of ventilation and light, fire escapes, and bathroom and sanitary requirements. This was a vast improvement, but it took time to retrofit older buildings. The rise of a powerful labor movement also had an effect on housing. Unions and worker’s groups built their own housing for their members, resulting in successful co-op complexes, such as the Amalgamated Housing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and in the North Bronx.

    In 1926, the State Legislature passed the New York State Housing Law, allowing local authorities to fund bonds or seek federal aid for housing projects. Not much happened, and the law didn’t really have any teeth until 1934, when the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was established. NYCHA’s first project was appropriately called First Houses, and started in 1934 in the East Village.

    The Great Depression was in full swing, and at first, efforts at public housing were seen more as make-work projects rather than grand housing reform. No one in authority wanted to interfere with the private housing industry, as commercial developers and builders had, and still have, tremendous power in the backrooms of City Hall. But it wasn’t until FDR’s New Deal kicked in that any real work began.

    The Housing Division of the Public Works Administration was established in the middle of 1933. Rather than just give out loans, this federal program would be directly involved in the planning and construction of low-income housing. In the next three and a half years, it would oversee the building of 51 projects in 36 cities, including the Harlem River Houses in Manhattan and the Williamsburg Houses in Brooklyn. Passage of the U.S. Housing Bill in 1937 strengthened the federal commitment to housing, but placed more control in the hands of local government. The first project in the city to be built under this new law was the Red Hook Houses, built in 1938 and ’39.

    By the early decades of the 20th century, Williamsburg had become one of the most densely populated areas of the city. The construction of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903 made it easy for a population of immigrants to spread from the crowded streets of the Lower East Side across the river to an area that soon became just as squalid and even more crowded. In 1934, a study was made to determine where to put new WPA housing, and Williamsburg won out over thirteen other neighborhoods as an area so blighted that vast slum clearance was seen as the best way to provide new housing relief there.

    An area of twelve blocks was selected for the housing. This area was chosen in part because it included mostly mixed-use buildings, with storefronts below and apartments above. There were also a couple of factories here as well. Most of the local landlords were willing to sell. Careful documentation showed that 90 percent of the structures were over 40 years old, 70 percent were made of wood, 78 percent had no central heating, and 67 percent had no private toilets. There were few schools in the area and no parks. The study concluded that Williamsburg’s slums “bear the stamp of dull listlessness and despair…Laissez-faire, exploitation, and land speculation have robbed the community of its natural potentialities for development and orderly urban life.”

    NYCHA’s board included five architects heading up its projects. At the helm was Richmond H. Shreve of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon; the architects of the Empire State Building. The others were Matthew W. Del Guadio, William Lescaze, Arthur C. Holden and James F. Bly. In 1934, an open competition for several WPA projects was held, and of the 278 architects that took part, five of the 22 architects selected were assigned to the Williamsburg project. They were Samuel Gardstein, G. Harmon Gurney, John W. Ingle, Jr., Paul Trapani, and Harry Leslie Walker. These ten men made up the Williamsburg Associated Architects, the official architects of the Williamsburg Houses.

    Richmond Shreve had the most experience with large projects, so he took on the title of project manager. He assigned William Lescaze to be the chief designer, responsible for the design and elevations. Lescaze was a Swiss born, European educated designer, an expert in the emerging International Style of architecture. The International Style had been born in Europe in the 1920s, the architectural vision of the Bauhaus and such men as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The famous dictum “form follows function” comes from this design philosophy.

    The International Style is characterized by simplified lines, a rejection of ornament, and the use of glass, steel and concrete as the building materials of choice. William Lescaze’s design for the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society Building in 1932 is regarded to be the United States’ first International Style skyscraper. Who better to lead the team in this new project, the poster child for new public housing? This would be public housing like no other.

    The Williamsburg Houses would be the largest and most expensive housing project built by the Public Works Administration, costing $12.5 million. A firm supporter of the plan, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was on hand to pour the first shovelful of concrete at the ground breaking ceremony in 1936. So what was the big deal, and why were these buildings so special? What sets these houses apart from other public housing? The rest of the story of the landmarked Williamsburg Houses, next time.

    (Photo: Williamsburg Houses soon after completion, 1938. nyc-architecture.com)

    Aerial view of the Houses, with the school in the middle of the complex.
    Photo: late 1930s. nyc-architecture.com.

    http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2012...1/?stream=true

  8. #83

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    What people forget about the Le Corbusier "tower in the park" plan was that the housing element was only supposed to be low rise; he never intended people to live in vast towers like what was eventually built. This is one reason why earlier housing projects that are only 4-6 stores tall work better and are easier to maintain/retrofit than the high rise towers built later (land cost being a big factor in that shift).

  9. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
    What people forget about the Le Corbusier "tower in the park" plan was that the housing element was only supposed to be low rise; he never intended people to live in vast towers like what was eventually built. .
    Interesting point: and 'news' to me. That being the case, why did he call it "towers' in the park; or is that 'phrase' just another distortion of his original 'intentions'.

  10. #85

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    I don't actually remember if he coined it or not. The towers in question were for commercial use and were surrounded by a vast pedestrian plaza connected to highways and rail. The housing elements were more like how office parks developed; 6 story buildings with lots of park space connected by highways.

    I'm not saying it would have worked if his original plan was built; in fact it's been pretty well disproven. It's more a critique of the design, low rise vs. high rise.

  11. #86

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    I know many 6 story public housing developments that are just as unwelcoming as their taller versions in the Bronx. I think the Williamsburg Houses s work better because they're closer to the street and are long enough to almost mimic a street wall. Also the Williamsburg grid is mostly intact in the development and the buildings almost span the full length of the block.

    Our public housing would have been so much better if it all resembled Knickerbocker Village.

  12. #87
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    The main problem I see in the NYC developments is an unwillingness to blend. They blocked off crossroads, trying to go "organic" with their layout, but denying the actual flow of the city, separating themselves from ITS life.


    And the clunky cross-shaped brick monstrosities with the huge chunky water tower/elevator overruns.....

    Bleh!

    BLEH I SAY!

  13. #88

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    That was the point afterall. But the medicine did more damage than the disease (arguably).

  14. #89

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    The best example I can think of for 'low rise' buildings' in-a-park (as Corbu intended) for housing projects would be those located directly behind Lincoln Center; in the west 60s near 10th / 11th Avenue. I walk through those housing projects regularly and that cluster of buildings are cleaner, quieter, an safer than any I have seen in all of Manhattan.

    I am not sure those favorable conditions could be attributed entirely to the 'architecture' but the low rise (4/5 stories) aspect of the buildings are clearly a key factor in the success of this public housing scheme.

  15. #90
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    Public Housing After Sandy

    New York City Housing Authority scrambles to respond to hurricane damage.

    by Nicole Anderson


    Eleven days after Hurricane Sandy, the Red Hook Houses were still without power. Shelley Bernstein / Flickr

    New York City Housing Authority announced Monday evening that the power is back on in all of the 402 buildings that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, but after weeks without heat, water, and electricity, residents were frustrated and asking why it took the city so long to restore services.

    At a contentious meeting on Monday night with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) representatives, residents from the Red Hook Houses expressed concern about their safety and the general stability of the buildings after Hurricane Sandy.

    “We have assessed all the buildings and we did not find any structural damage in the buildings so they will not be condemned,” said Cecil House, NYCHA general manager.

    Some residents, however, say this isn’t true. June Clarkson, a resident who has lived Red Hook House East for 51 years, said that on the outside of her building it appears that bricks are coming loose, and inside her apartment she believes something like “asbestos is bubbling” from the ceiling.

    Hurricane Sandy filled the basement of the Red Hook Houses with sediment and debris (left). As floodwaters are pumped out, a muddy high-water mark remains on the walls (right).
    Courtesy NYCHA
    House told the Red Hook community that one of NYCHA’s top priorities is to visit apartments with sustained water damage and send contractors in to inspect for mold. Ellen Davidson and Lucy Newman, staff attorneys at Legal Aid, met with NYCHA officials this morning and say while the plan is for staff and contractors to go door-to-door to every apartment on the first floor of public housing developments throughout the city, they are skeptical that this will happen.

    “NYCHA said they were going door-to-door before and we have heard different stories. We’ll see if that happens,” said Davidson. “Some of what they say sounds like it might be useful on its face, but they have been making a whole lot of promises especially to those who are home-bound and elderly, and we have run into many tenants who say that door-to-door visits never happened.”

    Mold is just one of the many issues that residents are worried about. The buildings’ garbage compactors were damaged by the storm, and without maintenance help, trash piled up and just sat in the buildings for days. Newman and Davidson also heard of sewage backing-up in the bathtubs in housing developments in the Lower Eastside.

    Power outages were caused primarily by “15-ft to 20-ft surges of salt water that powered through cinder blocks,” said Sheila Stainback, a communication officer at NYCHA. The storm surge flooded the basements where all the boilers and electrical systems are located.


    NYCHA workers clear debris from the Red Hook Houses after Hurricane Sandy. Courtesy NYCHA

    “There has been talk of re-locating heating and electrical systems in buildings that are on the coast,” said Reginald H. Bowman, the Chair of Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP) that represents all NYCHA residents.

    Most of the buildings are running on generators and temporary boilers right now, which makes NYCHA’s claim that “essential services have been restored to nearly 80,000 residents” a bit of an exaggeration or perhaps wishful thinking.

    “It is not exactly accurate. There are lines of apartments that do not have electricity,” said Davidson. “And they are running on generators so even though they do have electricity, it is intermittent.”

    House forewarned residents that as the Housing Authority starts the process of replacing temporary repairs with permanent systems, there might be service interruptions. But the question of whether NYCHA adequately prepared for the storm looms over these community meetings unanswered. Stainback said that since Hurricane Irene didn’t cause any flooding, they didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the storm and chose not to bring in extra generators in advance.

    “The Housing Authority was prepared to evacuate people from the coastal areas. The equipment, in addition to the fact it is expensive, would have been counter productive,” said Bowman.
    Governor Cuomo has asked congress for $30 billion in federal aid to help New York recover from the hurricane. If that request is granted, how much of that money will be allocated to re-building public housing is unknown.

    Representatives from NYCHA held two meetings Tuesday evening with communities in Coney Island and the Rockaways to provide information for tenants about service updates and rent abatements.

    NYCHA, overwhelmed by the recovery efforts, has yet to discuss preventive measures, but it is something that will have to be addressed in the near future.

    “Do you have a comprehensive plan for the next storm?” Asked one tenant of the Red Hook Houses. “Because there will be another one.”

    http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6367

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