What is the solution to affordable housing in New York?
One number has been repeated over and over — 200,000 subsidized units, to be built or preserved over a decade. Mayor Bill de Blasio promised it, but has yet to explain how he’ll get there.
Here are two other numbers: 9 x 18. In square feet, that’s 162, smaller than the most micro micro-apartment.
It is the size of a typical parking space. That lowly slice of asphalt has prompted three young architects — Miriam Peterson, Sagi Golan and Nathan Rich, fellows at the Institute for Public Architecture — to come up with what could be an innovative way to ease the housing crisis.
I’m intrigued by their proposal, “9 x 18,” because it’s about more than apartment buildings plopped onto vacant land. It considers how parking spaces — mandated in outmoded zoning regulations, prolific at public housing sites — might be leveraged into something more ambitious, something that encourages a mix of housing in active neighborhoods with accessible transit, public services and lively streets. In effect, the proposal trades asphalt for housing and amenities.
And even if “9 x 18” isn’t perfect or foolproof — especially when it comes to finances — at least it is concerned with more than hitting some arbitrary number.
After all, the New York City Housing Authority, albeit with a wealth of federal money, did build nearly 200,000 subsidized apartments in the two decades after World War II. But that was hardly an unqualified success: Too many of those apartments ended up in projects on the far edges of the city, without shops or grocery stores, surrounded by vast parking lots that acted like moats, thwarting street life and cutting off residents from the rest of the neighborhood. Many of the projects are crumbling today. The housing authority is broke.
The “9 x 18” proposal capitalizes on an outdated and onerous zoning mandate that requires private developers to build parking spaces for new apartments in certain parts of the city.
At one time "market rate" housing was "affordable" in most parts of the city. And if the parking spaces in question are at housing projects on the "far edges" of the city, then how can units be built on top of them that will have "accessible transit, public services and lively streets"? Did anyone proof this article?