Affordable Housing

Historically, affordable housing constructed independently of NYCHA has been developed through disposition to developers. However, the City also creates housing through a land-lease development model, maintaining ownership of the land, meaning that these additional developments are subject to Public Design Commission (PDC) review.

In order to streamline City-agency processes, PDC has collaborated with partner agencies to develop a system for coordinated interagency review. The intent is that timely and synchronized joint reviews, along with open channels of communication between the City agencies and design teams, will lead to improved design and ultimately expedite the review process.

In parallel with the coordinated interagency review process, PDC has developed a series of guiding principles organized around eight design categories, ranging from site considerations to material selection, all based on the distinct phases of PDC’s conceptual, preliminary, and final reviews.

Amid New York’s diverse set of neighborhood contexts and development constraints, these points are meant to inspire sensitive and holistic approaches to quality affordable housing design.

A database containing quality affordable housing precedents from across the United States and the globe can be found here.

Designing New York:
Quality Affordable Housing

Designing New York: Quality Affordable Housing is a collaboration of the New York City Public Design Commission, The Fine Arts Federation of New York, and the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter. A larger publication working group includes the Department of City Planning (DCP), Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

This publication contains additional information on the coordinated review process and guiding principles outlined above, as well as seven case studies representing some of the best recent affordable housing built in New York City. The interactive database linked above contains these case studies and more.

Video coverage of the publication launch at the Center for Architecture on May 8th, 2018, can be found here.

The Public Design Commission would like to thank the Associates of the Art Commission for their generous support of the Quality Affordable Housing publication.

Guideline Recommendations for Pandemic Resilience and Neighborhood Change

Housing is one of the most critical components of city and neighborhood infrastructure, and the design of housing directly impacts our personal, family, and community health. While much of the city’s housing infrastructure is already built and may require improved code compliance, maintenance or even building retrofits to achieve improved health and community outcomes, the city can also incorporate improved considerations for health and well-being into the design and development of new housing in the project pipeline. After immediate public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic for physical distancing and limited contact are no longer in place, building housing and mixed-use developments in ways that holistically and thoughtfully consider personal and public health, both physical and mental, will be critical in the communities most impacted by COVID-19. The City-led housing development projects in these communities are opportunities to use design to maximize co-benefits for health and well-being, and to improve and sustain resilience and equity.

In response to recommendations from the Racial Inclusion and Equity Task Force Community Voices Survey, the Public Design Commission, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the Department of City Planning staff developed design guidelines and recommendations targeted to improve public health and community resilience, and to enable positive long-term neighborhood change. These recommendations shift focus from a fear of density, toward instead, a broader understanding of well-being and essential provisions throughout our housing stock and neighborhoods.

The full document is available to download here, and includes guidelines and recommendations  as well as case studies.

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