Brownsville has the largest concentration of public housing in the country, in the city with the largest public housing system in the nation, housing almost 400,000 New Yorkers. With an average rent of $436 in a in a city with a chronic shortage of affordable housing, public housing is an invaluable asset for providing affordable shelter for low income city residents, as is evidenced by the massive waiting list of almost 170,000 families.
At the same time, public housing, and in particular Brownsville, is focal points of violent crime – Brownsville’s 73rd precinct has one of the highest crime rates in the city -, low educational attainment, poverty and racial segregation.
Almost one third of all public housing developments in New York City are more than 50 years old, built based on the outdated design philosophy of “towers in the park” which insulates them from the larger community. Housing developments are plagued by delays in maintenance, and open space, even though provided in abundance, is often not usable due to bad design and safety concerns.
At the request of the client, the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Neighborhood Improvement Association, this one semester studio developed a comprehensive plan for the cluster of public housing developments in the eastern section of Brownsville.
The recommendations focus on neighborhood programs and services, streamlining effective public housing management, and improvements to the physical structure of public housing developments and the neighborhood at large, with the goal of increasing the quality of life for public housing residents and the surrounding community.
“At Home in Brownsville” complements the work of the 2011-12 “Brownsville Works” studio.