Economics of Housing

Economics of Housing: Master Interview List

Interview Subject: Diana Reyna, City Council Member in District 34 (Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood)
1. Do you know urban homesteading is?
2. What does affordable housing mean to you, recognizing the official definition is still quite exclusionary?
3. What are the greatest changes you see in Bushwick?
4. What are the greatest problematic you find in NYC, which is the biggest problematic in Bushwick?
5. What programs are you advocating now?
6. What affordable projects are you working on in the city council?
7. What is affordable housing?
a. Do you think is possible in NY
b. If affordable is 30% of your income, what happens in NY when most of the population are spending more money that this?
c. Should affordable be redefined?
8. What do you think of the housing policies in Bloomberg’s administration?
9. Are you familiar with the urban homesteading program in NYC?
10. What do you think of these initiatives, what pros and cons do you find in them
11. Who was in charge of the urban homesteading in Bushwick before?
12. I’ve read you did a law on fines in the conversion of industrial zone to residential use, could you explain this a little further? Why were you pushing for it?
a. Why can’t this zoning be mix-used?

Charlie & Jonas
Interview Subject: Ingrid Ellen Gould, Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and Co-Director of the Furman Center on Real-Estate and Urban Policy
1. Do you know urban homesteading is?
2. What does affordable housing mean to you, recognizing the official definition is still quite exclusionary?
3. Regarding your interview on the spillover effect of subsidized housing in the surrounding community’s property values, I would like your response to the question of ‘Increasing property values make neighborhoods more desirable for whom?’
4. With your intimate knowledge of urban economics and real-estate markets, can you imagine any possible non-traditional lending agreements or types of ownership transferral? What about specifically related to bank-owned properties and those in foreclosure?
4a. Based on the idea that diversity and equal opportunity are positive social characteristics of a neighborhood, do you see any possibility of turning these into a Return on Investment – maybe in the corporate social responsibility sense?
5. One of your recent books is titled Sharing America’s Neighborhoods: The Prospects for Stable Racial Integration – is an incredibly ambitious idea. Were your findings positive in the sense that there are realistic prospects?
6. Questions about speculation from Jonas.

Interview Prospect: Habitat for Humanity / American Red Cross
1. Do you know urban homesteading is?
2. What does affordable housing mean to you, recognizing the official definition is still quite exclusionary?
3. What is the role of NGOs and non-profits in today’s housing process?
4. How did you calculate the requirements for those who apply for your housing program?
5. Can you tell us more about your government relations and advocacy work?
6. What is specific to a housing process in New York? Are you working in Brooklyn? Bushwick?

Interview Prospect: Metropolitan Council on Housing
1. Do you know urban homesteading is?
2. What does affordable housing mean to you, recognizing the official definition is still quite exclusionary?

Interview Prospect: Alex Schwartz

1. Your book “Housing policy in US” was written in 2006, just before the subprime mortgage crisis, what have changed in the country and in NYC since that? Did the federal economical devices for housing (such as the tax credits), that you describe so well in the book, have contributed to provoke somehow the crisis?

2. In your book you focus on promoting homeownership as a strategy that federal and local governments has always seen as main priority, essential to achieve the “American dream”. Do you think it’s a model that today seems even more in crisis than when you wrote the book? And do you think an urban homesteading program could still be a possible alternative way to conceive an housing strategy, at both scales: NYC and US?

3. Why urban homesteading and “sweat equity” programs did fail? What kind of policies could be affective today for achieving a federal or at least a local homesteading urban strategy?

4.  A second main federal and local housing strategy, that is becoming more and more relevant, is promoting income integration. I’m really interested in that, because I think we’ll have to face that in Europe really soon. I read carefully in your book the critics to the HOPE VI program, how it reduced drastically the stock of housing for low income people and set a series of social restriction for people to grant these benefits (full time working or studying). I would really like to know more about that. Did it work somewhere? And how is it possible to show that it actually works? The risk is that the point of you of people judging this program is the one of the few that benefits of it, the one that were able and willing to integrate, but what about the many others that suffer even worse segregation conditions because of these policies? Could you tell me some examples of these kind of interventions that I can study?

5.  If at beginning of a city renewal program, income integration produces interesting benefits, it happens that after a while it generates gentrification. What kind of policies, or planning devices, could be thought for having the only benefits and preventing the second phase of gentrification?

6. Do you think that mixing, in terms of income, race, class, is always a strategy that policies and urban plans should pursue? Why? I ask you this because in Europe, I think, the issue is still not so explicit as it is here.

7. I’m also interested in how smart growth and new urbanism ideology is promoting the integration issue in a wider strategy that in my opinion, it becomes a little bit dangerous in its way of stressing a specific idea of community, linked with centralities and green policies, against sprawling or different ways of conceiving communities.

8. I was really impressed by the data you provide in your book about how much NYC invest into affordable housing programs compared with the other US cities? Where does all this money go? What main policies and programs did Mr. Bloomberg promote? HOPE VI, vouchers (section 8), public housing?

9. Can we compare what happens in NY with the rest of the country in terms of housing programs, policies, and urban plan?

Interview Prospect: Nadine Whitted
1. Do you know urban homesteading is?
2. What does affordable housing mean to you, recognizing the official definition is still quite exclusionary?

Job opportunities in Bushwick.
1. Can you tell me something more about where most people from Bushwick work and how they commute to work.
2. Which problems can you identify as mayor obstructions for job accessibility?
3. Is most of the heavy industry leaving Bushwick? Can you see new job opportunities, beside the creative business of the migrating artist scene?
4. Is the transformation of warehouses into first artist lofts, later expansive lofts a treat to the industry and job opportunities or is it just a logic coincidence of industry leaving.

Affordable housing , real estate and vacancies. 
I found an article about a new mixed use development in Broadway Bushwick from Poko partners, real estate development on which you commented.
5. Can you explain how they are able to offer this affordable housing project different from most overpriced offers?
6. Can you tell us something more about real estate, speculation and vacancies in Bushwick?

Social and environmental problems. 
In another article I read about the cities neglect to foresee better lighting on Broadway underneath the J train.
According to writings of social geographer David Harvey it is a lot more difficult for a large heterogeneous community like Bushwick to adress its problems to the cities authorities then it is for smaller homogeneous communities.
7. How do you experience this problem and how do you organize addressing the many different problems?
What are Bushwick’s main problems that the City neglects?