In June of 2019, Citizens Housing & Planning Council, together with the Charles H. Revson Foundation, hosted a study trip for public policy and urban planning professionals from Israel who came to learn about affordable housing policy and neighborhood revitalization in New York City.
These professionals are part of the Rothschild – Cadets for Local Government cohort that aims to groom and train a group of professionals who are committed to leading vital change in their cities, towns, and outlying areas in Israel. Upon completion of their graduate degrees, Cadets are placed in key positions in Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli local municipalities and are trained as change agents who have a critical role to play in addressing Israel’s affordable housing crisis and declining cities.
During their visit to NYC, Cadets gained practical and useful insights into the City’s housing policy, particularly around the topics of identifying housing need, housing diverse communities, community engagement, neighborhood revitalization, housing finance and having personal leadership in a constrained environment.
In 10 days, the group had a chance to explore four NYC boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and visit diverse neighborhoods, such as the Broadway Triangle/Bushwick, Jackson Heights, Central Harlem, Navy Green/Clinton Hill, Chelsea, Charlotte Gardens, and others. The diversity of NYC was also explored through its varied cuisines – Mexican, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, among others. One of the highlights of their learning experience was a day trip to Newark, New Jersey, where the group had an opportunity to learn from Edison Properties, a firm working on the downtown revitalization of Newark, and L+M Development Partners, a large affordable housing developer of mixed-income and mixed-use buildings in the area.
Cadets learned about housing policies from a government perspective through the meetings with representatives from NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development, the Department of City Planning, and City Council Land Use Committee. They also gained insight into housing finance from NYC Housing Development Corporation.
While visiting different neighborhoods, the group met with several development firms, including Artimus, Monadnock and others. Most importantly, the mobile workshop emphasized the importance of community engagement and input – the group visited community organizations such as RiseBoro, Chhaya CDC, IMPACCT Brooklyn, and MBD Community Housing Corp.
They also learned about CHPC’s Making Room research initiative exploring how demographic change is affecting ‘the household’ and how different housing typologies (the design and layouts of housing units) can be used as a tool to satisfy emerging housing needs.
Other highlights included attendance of Community Board 3 Manhattan meeting, tour of the High Line with NYC Department of City Planning, leadership workshop with Support Center, and attendance of the opening of “Mapping Communities: Public Investment in NYC” exhibition at the Center for Architecture.
During the wrap-up meeting, Cadets spoke about the importance of using data to make decisions and plan, about community engagement and input in designing housing policies and emphasized it would be something they are eager to explore back in their home country. The leadership workshop heldat the end of the trip served as an opportunity for cadets to reflect on their time in NYC, as well as think of the challenges they might face in pushing for changes in their municipalities and ways to address them.
This visit was a part of CHPC Connect program designed to give the opportunity for practitioners and policymakers from other cities to gain practical and useful insights into NYC’s experience that will help them to develop their own solutions and strategies. Previously, CHPC Connect has organized programs for groups from many countries, including Israel, UK, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada.