On November 11, the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee and the Design for Aging Committee hosted a presentation focused on design excellence in affordable and supportive housing in New York City. Panelists represented the architect, client, supportive housing advocacy organization, and public agency, demonstrating how close collaboration is essential in providing access to housing—a fundamental right—to our most vulnerable communities. Our speakers, Akiko Kyei-Aboagye, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Urban Architectural Initiatives, Rachel Simpson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Associate, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, Laura Mascuch, Executive Director, The Supportive Housing Network of New York, Takisia L. Whites, Director of New Initiatives and Underwriting, Robert Sanborn Development and Principal/Founder, Urban Impact Capital Partners and Emily Lehman, Assistant Commissioner, Division of Special Needs Housing, NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) presented initiatives and projects that provide safe, equitable, and sustainable housing.

Emily Lehman provided an overview of HPD’s role to promote quality and affordable housing by highlighting plans through which its mission is achieved, including the ‘Five Borough-Ten Year Plan’. Key takeaways were the qualification parameters for housing to be considered ‘affordable’, identifying HPD’s financing programs, and design guidelines for supportive and affordable housing. Laura Mascuch summarized The Supportive Housing Network of New York’s work as an advocacy organization whose members who operate 52,000 supportive units statewide including 32,000 in NYC, and some of the key funding challenges the lie ahead. Takisia L. Whites underscored a “housing first” approach as a guiding principal of supportive housing with the aims to house and provide support which empowers people to continue their healing process. She also described how clients manage agency funding and pre-development and operating budgets for supportive housing developments. Akiko Kyei-Aboagye and Rachel Simpson presented several award-winning projects their firms have designed for mission and community-based clients.  Both architects shared how the design of this housing brings value and dignity to all communities and leads the way in how to design below minimum energy code.

Jen Stencel, AIA, LEED AP, Associate Principal, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, facilitated an engaging, insightful conversation, and moderated questions from our audience. The event was inspiring and showcased the dedication to design and management in projects that serve the most vulnerable in our society.