December 14, 2020
by: Adam Roberts
NYCHA's Drew-Hamilton Houses. Photo: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons.
NYCHA's Drew-Hamilton Houses. Photo: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons.

The politics over affordable and supportive housing in New York City have become increasingly contentious. During both the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations, housing projects were usually placed in more socially and economically marginalized neighborhoods. Furthermore, the amount of affordable housing proved insufficient to fulfill demand, keeping rents and home prices high even during the current financial crisis. When affordable housing and supportive housing projects have been proposed in wealthier and predominantly white neighborhoods, they have been met with significant community opposition, such as Haven Green and the Lucerne Hotel shelter.

Faced with these inequities, advocates have pushed to increase the amount of housing and ensure less of it is sited in marginalized communities. As a result, the NYC Department of City Planning is undertaking two different rezoning proposals in wealthier white areas: Gowanus and SoHo/NoHo. The fight over the proposed SoHo/NoHo rezoning in particular has become a proxy battle for whether similar neighborhoods should be rezoned to allow for more housing. Various preservation and neighborhood groups have opposed the rezoning, while prominent elected officials and The New York Times have come out in favor.

As architects, it is our duty to increase the availability of quality affordable and supportive housing. Ensuring a more equitable distribution of housing is essential to achieving this goal, which is why AIANY has expressed its strong support for the SoHo/NoHo rezoning plan. Hopefully, a successful rezoning of the area will set a precedent, meaning that demographically similar parts of the city will also open themselves up to more diverse residents and housing typologies.

Pulse Points:

  • If you would like to join your local community board, applications are due early in the new year. Manhattan applications are due 2/1/2021 and Brooklyn applications are due 2/14/2021. Though due dates have not yet been set for applications in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible. If you are applying to your community board, please notify Adam Roberts, Director of Policy, at so AIANY can advocate with your Borough President and Council Member for your appointment.


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