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Affordable New York — How to Make Room for One Million New Yorkers

New York, NY


Housing Proposal


New York Times


New York City-Wide


Ongoing Advocacy Project

In the Summer of 2023, PAU was approached by the New York Times, to answer a deceptively simple question: how much room is there for new housing in the five boroughs? Over the next several months our office developed a conservative methodology for analyzing the city’s housing potential—following a strategy that identifies primarily vacant sites, within walking distance from transit, lying outside the projected floodplain in 2100. Each site was assigned a multi-family housing typology: low, mid, or high-rise, depending on the height of the neighborhood context. Older office buildings, suitable for conversion to housing, were also examined.

The result: there is room to build 520,000 new homes, enough to house over 1.3 million new New Yorkers, without demolishing a single house or apartment building. About 80% of these homes would be in low and mid-rise structures, likely built by smaller builders as opposed to big developers.  These smaller buildings are have a degree of intrinsic affordability that flows from cheaper land and construction costs than high rise sites in Manhattan.  Further affordability for low-income or supportive housing for the unhoused could be created through public subsidies.

In December of 2023, Vishaan Chakrabarti wrote an editorial sharing these findings, accompanied by illustrations produced by PAU and the New York Times.