RPA Assembly 2018: Create More Homes With The Buildings We Have


Our region needs to create a mind-boggling number of new homes — over 2 million — to address the current housing shortage and to accommodate new residents who will arrive over the next twenty-five years. This crisis demands more creative solutions, we can’t just rely on the often slow and expensive method of building new buildings to get us there.  This year we have four great experts speaking at RPA’s Assembly that will explore innovative policy solutions that would allow us to add more homes more quickly, and the obstacles we need to remove to make them happen.

For instance, if you own your own home today and want to convert your attic or the space above your garage into a separate unit for your in-laws, a caregiver, or a renter, chances are the zoning code in your town won’t allow it.  Regulations also fail to encourage vacant apartments from being rented in urban neighborhoods – in New York City currently there are at least 75,000 apartments which are being kept off the market for use as pieds-a-terre, vacation homes, or serial short-term hotel use through platforms like AirBnB.

New York City recently instituted a pilot basement apartment program, but could it be expanded citywide? What are the best ways to enforce rules around institutional AirBnBs and get that housing back on the market? What are the possibilities and challenges architecturally with creating Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and allowing more subdivisions of homes? And what role might the State governments play in incentivizing subdivisions or ADUs, and should they also be playing more of a role in setting targets for housing production or fair housing goals that could lead to municipalities implementing these policies?

We’re hoping to address some of these questions with our distinguished panel, which includes:

Moderator (and RPA Board Member): Jun Choi, Menlo Properties

As the former Mayor of Edison, New Jersey, Mr. Choi will bring the municipal perspective in teasing out how these policies affect communities, and what local decision-makers can do.

Deborah Gans, Principal, GANSstudio

As an architect, Ms. Gans has worked on multiple projects increasing affordable housing, and will bring the design perspective to strategies to increase housing without new buildings.

Nancy Holman, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, London School of Economics

Dr. Holman has conducted extensive research on the impact of AirBnB in London, and will bring an international perspective to the housing crunch our region faces.

Evonne Klein, Commissioner, Department of Housing, State of Connecticut

Working to increase affordable housing throughout Connecticut, Ms. Klein will bring the state perspective to addressing housing issues within our region’s existing political framework.

Julia Watt-Rosenfeld, Director of Community Organizing & Advocacy, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation

As a lead community organizer and advocate, Ms. Watt-Rosenfeld will bring the human perspective to how increasing housing, and legalizing and making safer housing, will play out in communities.

To learn more about this year’s Assembly, click here

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