Former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretaries Henry Cisneros and Jack Kemp called for new strategies for urban housing at a briefing held at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Their remarks were based on findings and recommendations from a new book, “Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States.” In addition to Secretaries Cisneros and Kemp, the authors of the bipartisan report include Nicolas P. Retsinas, Director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and scholar Kent W. Colton.
Among its key findings, the book notes that the most effective programs look at the housing continuum – supportive housing, public housing, rental housing and for-sale homes – as parts of a whole rather than separate, unrelated programs.
New York, along with Boston and Chicago, is highlighted as a model of successful housing policies.
Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan began on July 1, 2003 as a five-year plan and was expanded in February 2006 into a ten-year $7.5 billion plan to create affordable housing for over 500,000 New Yorkers, more than the entire population of Atlanta. It is the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history. The plan uses innovative approaches to find new land and financing to build affordable housing for New York’s future.
“We selected New York City for the launch of this book because the nation’s largest-ever municipal housing initiative is under way here,” said Henry Cisneros. “Its leadership commitment, intra-agency cooperation, and community input, along with a will to act, are absolutely essential for solving our housing problems.”
The New Housing Marketplace Plan recently reached the milestone of 65,000 units funded, surpassing the Plan’s original five-year commitment a year early. This milestone does not include the 18,550 affordable units funded prior to the implementation of the Mayor’s housing plan. In total, 84,302 affordable housing units have been funded since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002.
“Today we are celebrating a major milestone in the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan: the original five-year commitment was reached a year earlier than pledged. This milestone shows that we are making great progress in realizing the most ambitious municipal affordable housing plan in the nation’s history,” said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan. “The more than 84,000 affordable units funded under the Mayor’s term represent housing security for thousands of families and an opportunity for them to share in our city’s success.”
Jack Kemp said, “‘Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States’ examines real programs that work – like New York City’s – and provides a blueprint for other communities to follow. The recommendations in this book provide a framework on how to proceed, whether there is a market slow down, or when the market becomes more robust.”
While each city approached its housing problems differently based on local needs, the book says successful programs should all include:
• Leadership commitment to clear goals and a deadline;
• A meaningful game plan based on hard data and guided input;
• The pledge of a reliable revenue stream;
• Partners organized to act in concert, and
• A bias for action and an eye for opportunity.
“Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States,” is published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and available for purchase from their web site: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/governmentprograms/our_communities_our_homes.html