Category Archives: Challenge of Affordability

Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: Preserving the Affordable Housing Stock in New York City

Edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, this is the third of three interviews extending a previous eight-part series focused on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of democracy in cities and major urban areas.

logo 2For these new posts, we asked Harvard Graduate School of Design doctoral candidate Adam Tanaka to explore the ways in which housing shortages in the expensive global cities of London, Paris, and New York are leading to a redefinition of affordability, both for low- and middle-income residents. All three cities are experiencing population and productivity growth, coupled with increasing income inequality, contributing to a pressure-cooker housing market in which supply is falling far short of demand. As a result, public authorities are finding new ways to partner with private developers to try and meet demand for below-market housing. To learn more about the political and policy implications of these new partnerships, Tanaka sat down with three private developers, each of which is playing an important and telling role in the delivery and management of affordable housing in London, Paris, and New York.

For his third interview, Tanaka traveled to New York City to interview Rick Gropper of L+M Development Partners, a private affordable housing development company with thirty years of experience in New York. Their conversation reveals some of the political challenges still facing developers operating in this field, as well as new opportunities for innovation across the public-private divide. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: Bridging the Public and Private Sectors in Paris

Edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, this is the second of three interviews extending a previous eight-part series focused on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of democracy in cities and major urban areas.

logo 2For these new posts, we asked Harvard Graduate School of Design doctoral candidate Adam Tanaka to explore the ways in which housing shortages in the expensive global cities of London, Paris, and New York are leading to a redefinition of affordability, both for low- and middle-income residents. All three cities are experiencing population and productivity growth, coupled with increasing income inequality, contributing to a pressure-cooker housing market in which supply is falling far short of demand. As a result, public authorities are finding new ways to partner with private developers to try and meet demand for below-market housing. To learn more about the political and policy implications of these new partnerships, Tanaka sat down with three private developers, each of which is playing an important and telling role in the delivery and management of affordable housing in London, Paris, and New York.

For his second interview, Tanaka travelled to Paris to interview Julien Schmid of Habitat Social, a subsidiary of one of the largest construction companies in France. Their discussion addressed the politics of affordable housing production in Paris and the surrounding metropolitan region, the Ile-de-France. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: London’s ‘Squeezed Middle’

Edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, this is the first of three interviews extending a previous eight-part series focused on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of democracy in cities and major urban areas.

logo 2For these new posts, we asked Harvard Graduate School of Design doctoral candidate Adam Tanaka to explore the ways in which housing shortages in the expensive global cities of London, Paris, and New York are leading to a redefinition of affordability, both for low- and middle-income residents. All three cities are experiencing population and productivity growth, coupled with increasing income inequality, contributing to a pressure-cooker housing market in which supply is falling far short of demand. As a result, public authorities are finding new ways to partner with private developers to try and meet demand for below-market housing. To learn more about the political and policy implications of these new partnerships, Tanaka sat down with three private developers, each of which is playing an important and telling role in the delivery and management of affordable housing in London, Paris, and New York.

For his first interview, Tanaka travelled to London to learn more about the politics of delivering affordable housing. He met with Russ Edwards of Pocket, a development firm that is pioneering a new model of micro-unit, moderate-income housing. Their discussion ranged from the new architectural and financial approaches needed to drive innovation in affordable housing, to the complicated politics of who benefits—and who loses—from affordable housing policies.

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: Transatlantic Trends in Housing

logo 2This post kicks off a second round of blog postings that explore affordable housing as a challenge to the health of democracy in cities and major urban areas. These new posts—three interviews exploring the political trajectories of affordable housing in London, Paris, and New York—are edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor of Public Policy Quinton Mayne, who also writes the introductory post below.
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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: The Role of Film in Fighting Displacement

This post is the eighth in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

andrew headshotIn this post, we invite documentary filmmaker Andrew J. Padilla to share the issues that motivate his filmmaking and what his films El Barrio Tours: Gentrification in East Harlem and El Barrio Tours: Gentrification USA, can tell us about the health of American democracy. In his piece Padilla describes his efforts as a filmmaker to give voice to communities who very often are the voiceless objects of urban policy decisions. He also reflects on how he and fellow filmmakers can engage communities in political awakening, coalition building, and mobilizing action toward positive change. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: Using Film to Raise the Issue of Housing Affordability

This post is the seventh in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

KingWilliamsIn this post, we invite documentary filmmaker King Williams to share the issues that motivate his filmmaking and what his film, The Atlanta Way, can tell us about the health of American democracy. In his piece Williams describes his efforts as a filmmaker to give voice to communities who very often are the voiceless objects of urban policy decisions. He also reflects on how he and fellow filmmakers can engage communities in political awakening, coalition building, and mobilizing action toward positive change. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: Organizing Citizen Demand for Affordable Housing

This post is the sixth in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

adam headshotThe lack of affordable housing in urban and suburban America suggests a failure on the part of elected officials to respond to citizen need. One way to make politicians more responsive is for citizens to become more demanding. To make their demands known, however, citizens need to organize and mobilize. In cities across the nation, intermediary organizations like community development corporations (CDCs) and neighborhood or community-based organizations (CBOs) are providing the infrastructure of support necessary for citizens to come together to make their voices heard and address the issue of affordable housing.  In addition, CDCs and CBOs have long played a crucial role in everyday democratic life through a “self help” approach that enables citizens to work collectively to meet the challenge of affordable housing  in partnership with the public sector.

To get a better sense of how CDCs and CBOs are tackling the issue of affordable housing in Boston and beyond, for this post we invited Harvard Graduate School of Design doctoral candidate Adam Tanaka to speak with Katie Provencher of Urban Edge. His interview reveals that Urban Edge, like many CDCs across the country, plays a crucial political and policy role. We also learn that The Great Recession—in addition to drawing public attention to affordability issues—encouraged more collaborative and creative thinking on the part of CDCs and CBOs like Urban Edge.
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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: The Politics of New York City’s Grand Vision

This post is the fifth in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

adam headshotIn this post, we invite Harvard Graduate School of Design Doctoral Candidate Adam Tanaka to comment on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to build 80,000 new and preserve 120,000 existing affordable housing units in New York City by 2025. Tanaka looks back to large-scale development efforts from the post-war era as a model for the politics of coalition building necessary for the ambitious projects required to meet the Mayor’s goal, illuminating how public and private sectors might “divide and conquer” in their attempt to meet the housing needs of both low- and moderate-income groups. The principal lesson that emerges from this retrospective is on mayoral leadership bringing together a network of pro-development and progressive institutions including public and union pension funds, financial institutions, affordable housing advocates and neighborhood groups, non-profit and for-profit developers, and large employers like hospitals and universities. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: An Evolving and Expanding Definition of ‘Public’ Housing

This post is the fourth in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

margaret headshotIn this post, we invite Harvard Graduate School of Design Master in Urban Planning candidate Margaret Scott to explore how the evolution of public housing as an institution might offer hopeful opportunities for a broader coalition of actors in the field of affordable housing. In particular, we explore the changing balance of power in the funding, production, and management of public housing between multiple scales of government and, increasingly, toward greater involvement of private actors in the delivery of public housing. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: Housing Beyond the Center City

This post is the third in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

margaret headshotIn this post, we invite Harvard Graduate School of Design Master in Urban Planning candidate Margaret Scott to explore the very real financial pressures—from stagnating wages and increasing poverty rates to subsequent climbing housing cost burdens—facing communities across the U.S. As Scott highlights, these challenges are equally significant, and in some cases even greater, in suburban areas outside center cities—the traditional focus of affordable housing initiatives. Combined with a set of distinct political pressures, affordable housing in the suburbs—a blind spot in the affordability debate—is instructive to understanding its political dimensions. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: An ‘Innovation’ Approach to the Problem of Housing in Boston

This post is the second in a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions.

adam headshotIn this post, we invite Harvard Graduate School of Design Doctoral Candidate Adam Tanaka to help us further understand affordable housing as an intractable political challenge. In his interview below, three leaders of the City of Boston’s new Housing Innovation Lab note that housing requires not only new resources and new policy solutions, but also a new framework for thinking about the problem that moves beyond the traditional technical, financial, regulatory, and design perspectives. Tanaka’s engaging interview covers a number of political dimensions to affordable housing in Boston, from influencing the public discourse to leveraging digital technology toward community engagement, and unearths valuable insights applicable to cities across the U.S. Continue reading

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Democracy and the Challenge of Affordability: The Case of Housing

mayne headshotThis post kicks off a month-long series of blog postings on affordable housing as a challenge to the health of American democracy, and in particular local democracy in the United States. The series, edited by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Quinton Mayne, is part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, a two-year public dialogue inviting leaders in thought and practice to name our greatest challenges and explore promising solutions. Continue reading

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