Check out our news & activity feed below, where we post the latest updates about the Hunter Urban community. We normally keep about a year of current news & activity in our feed. If you'd like to see what transpired before this, check out the archive where we keep updates dating back to January of 2011.

Marisol Otero-Morales awarded the 2022 Hunter HEO Employee Service Recognition Award
UPP’s Academic Program Coordinator, Marisol Otero-Morales, has been awarded the 2022 Hunter HEO Employee Service Recognition Award. Marisol joined the Hunter College community 25 years ago as a CUNY Office Assistant in the Department of Political Science, where she worked for 10 years. After earning her bachelor's degree, Marisol briefly left Hunter in 2007 to work for the NYC Administration for Children's Services as a Child Protective Specialist. She soon became "home sick," though, and returned to Hunter in 2008. Marisol has been with the Department of Urban Policy and Planning since then. She was UPP's Administrative Assistant from 2008 to 2015, when she was promoted to her currently held position as UPP's Academic Program Coordinator. Marisol holds a B.A. in Law and Society from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program (2006) and an M.S. in Disability Services in Higher Education from the CUNY School of Professional Studies (2020). We congratulate Marisol on this very well-deserved award and convey our deep gratitude for her dedicated and able service to the department over these many years.
UPP Prof. Jill Gross was a panelist at the Brookings Institution in DC to discuss an article she published in a new Brookings book

Brookings Metro celebrated the release of a new book from the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking, “Hyperlocal: Place Governance in a Fragmented World.” Prof. Jill Gross, a contributor to the book, was invited to join a  panel discussion exploring the opportunities and tensions associated with place governance, and the ways in which organizations can give stakeholders a structure to share ideas, voice concerns, advocate for investments, and co-design community improvement strategies.

The following is a link to the panel discussion on YouTube:


Associate Prof. Laura Wolf-Powers presented a paper on civic mobilization and public land at Rutgers University

Associate Prof. Laura Wolf-Powers presented a paper titled  "Civic mobilization and public land in West Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood 2013-2022" at an Urban Studies Foundation-sponsored conference at Rutgers University on September 22. The conference was titled Negotiating Social Futures: The Politics of Land Development and Value Capture During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Prof Wolf-Powers also attended a convening, "Land Value Capture in the U.S. and Canada Expert Group Meeting" at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 29 and 30.

Prof. Nicholas Bloom’s article on thinking retail space in NYC is published in the Gotham Gazette

Professor Nicholas Bloom published a new editorial on rethinking retail space in NYC:

Professor Bloom discussed affordable housing in lower Manhattan on Gothamist, July 11, 2022.
Prof. Heris’s project to develop an urban heat mitigation portal for the NYC Region gets $250K in funding from NASA


Assistant professor Mehdi P. Heris’s project to develop an urban heat mitigation portal for the New York City region has been funded by a $250,000 grant from NASA. This project is part of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate focused on Equity and Environmental Justice. Other co-investigators in this project are Peter Marcotullio and Andrew Reinmann from the department of Geography and Environmental Science of Hunter College and Travis Flohr from Penn State University. The NASA ROSES A.49 program is the first of its kind to encourage the use of NASA’s Earth Observation data to address environmental justice issues. Other partners in this project are the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice of NYC, Jersey City’s Department of Planning, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and I Love Greenville of Jersey City. This project will provide a platform where local governments and advocacy groups can access heat mitigation strategies curated specifically for the planning process. Zhi Keng, Andrea Avila, Rosy George, and Annie Carforo, graduate students of Hunter College, were involved in preparing the project proposal and will continue to work on the project.


The Urban Review is excited to announce the release of its latest issue, Spring 2022: Edges!

This issue offers unique insights to unite city dwellers and improve the quality of urban living. Rethinking the significance and function of edges in the urban environment, the pieces in the issue cover topics including the benefits of green infrastructure, the polarity of public restroom access, first and last mile transit options, and challenging the norm of acceptable public behavior, to list a few. Since February, an incredible team of (student) writers, editors, copy editors, peer reviewers, and visual artists worked to complete Spring 2022: Edges. Visit the Urban Review site to read and share the issue.

Prof. Wolf-Powers’ Commentary on property taxation reform is published in Law & Political Economy Blog

Associate Professor Laura Wolf-Powers published a commentary about property taxation reform in the Law & Political Economy Blog's Symposium on the De-Commodification of Urban Property.

UPP Chair Quoted in New York Politico

UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti was quoted in the New York Politico article "Clash of the New York titans: Tensions rise between onetime allies Adams and de Blasio," June 15, 2022.

MUP Alum Lucy Block Discusses 2022 Housing Risk Chart o BronxNet TV

MUP alum Lucy Block (2017) recently appeared on BronxNet TV to discuss her organization's 2022 Housing Risk Chart, which helps the public determine where to direct resources to stabilize communities.

Prof. Bloom Provides Commentary on Public Housing History and Recent NYCHA Legislation

Professor Nicholas Bloom provided commentary on public housing history in NYC on the NPR Podcast "Code Switch" and on recent NYCHA legislation in Albany Professor Bloom also discussed public housing with the public and members of Community Board 8 in Manhattan.

UPP Professor Nicholas Bloom and MUP grads present at affordable housing conference

Professor Nicholas Bloom presented on affordable housing history at a May conference on "NYC's Housing Crisis" organized by the Center for Architecture. MUP graduates Moses Gates (VP, Regional Plan Association) and Ahmed Tigani (Deputy Commissioner, HPD) also presented at the conference.

Urban studies graduate publishes article on organizing among food delivery workers

Graduating urban studies major Jackson Todd's article "Los Deliveristas Unidos Takes On the App-Delivery Industry" was published in the Village Voice (May 26, 2022). The article is about organizing among food delivery workers, which is also the subject of Jackson's capstone project.

UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti on Congressional candidate prospects

UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti participated in a City & State (May 24) magazine "Ask the Experts" forum on candidate prospects for the newly created Congressional District No. 10 in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

MS UPL alum Colleen O’Connor-Grant publishes article on climate gentrification

MS UPL alum Colleen O’Connor-Grant (2020) recently published an article titled "Are Urban Planners Staying Silent On Climate Gentrification?" in Shelterforce magazine, (May 9, 2022).

Spring 2022 End of Semester Student Presentations
Each semester we set aside an evening for students from the workshop and studio courses to present their work to the UPP community. This is a great way to see what your fellow students have been working on all semester, learn something new, and show support for your classmates!
Thursday, May 12 @ 6:30PM
Faculty Dining Room, 8th floor, Hunter West
Book talk with UPP Adjunct Stefan Al on May 17

UPP Adjunct Associate Professor Stefan Al's book "Supertall: How the World's Tallest Buildings Are Reshaping Our Cities and Our Lives"  was recently released by W. W. Norton & Company. Stephan is giving a free online book talk, sponsored by The Skyscraper Museum, on May 17.  Click here for further details and to register.

UPP Prof. Nicholas Bloom on Affordable Housing

UPP Professor Nicholas Bloom presented a Keynote Address at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies at the end of last month. Prof. Bloom also released "How the Next Phase of the Second Avenue Subway Can Build a Better East Harlem," in the Gotham Gazette (April 4, 2022).

Lily B. Pollans Promoted to Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning

Congratulations are in order for Lily B. Pollans, who has been granted a well-deserved promotion to the rank of Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning effective this coming fall.

UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti on Mayor Adams’ First 100 Days

UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti was quoted in a Gothamist article on Mayor Adams' first hundred days in office.

UPP Assistant Professor Lily Pollans featured on podcast

UPP Assistant Professor Lily Pollans was recently featured on an episode of Gastropod about food waste. Tune in for some trash talk!

Prof. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein article published in The Nation

UPP affiliated faculty members and CUNY Distinguished Professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein's article, "Medicare for All Is Not Enough" was recently published in The Nation (March 31, 2022).

Upcoming Event at Roosevelt House: Housing Policy Discussion with HPD experts

Join us on Wednesday, March 30th for a discussion on New York City housing policy with two experts from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). We will discuss the work HPD does to make the city more equitable and affordable, the development of housing policy under the new mayoral administration, and the intricacies of city planning.

Moderated by Dr. Basil A. Smikle Jr, Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Program, the program will feature Lucy Joffe, Assistant Commissioner for Housing Policy, Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Chantella Mitchell, Executive Director of Homeownership Initiatives in the Office of Development, Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

The event will be Wednesday, March 30th from 1-2pm Roosevelt House, 2nd Floor Classroom (RH 204).

RSVP here or email Bianca Oliva (

Speaker Bios:

Lucy Joffe is the Assistant Commissioner for Housing Policy at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”). In this role, she oversees HPD's Policy Development & Special Initiatives, Fair Housing Policy & Investments team and the Research & Evaluation team.

Lucy previously worked as the Executive Director of Regulatory Compliance at HPD, an attorney-advisor in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as a legislative aide to New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick. She also taught elementary and middle school English as a Second Language at P.S./I.S. 50 in East Harlem as a Teach for America corps member and worked in several Detroit public schools as an AmeriCorps member. Lucy earned a J.D. from the New York University School of Law, an M.S. for Teachers from Pace University and a B.A. in sociology with a political science minor from the University of Michigan.

Chantella Mitchell is the Executive Director of Homeownership Initiatives in the Office of Development at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). In this role, Chantella manages the team that administers HPD’s preservation loan programs for 1- to 4-family homeowners, as well as HPD’s emerging development work around Community Land Trusts and zombie home acquisition strategies. Prior to her current role, Chantella’s positions in New York City service included working as a Director of Operations in the HPD Office of Development and as a Senior Analyst at the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Before joining the City, Chantella worked at several nonprofit policy and philanthropic organizations focused on economic opportunity. Chantella holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Science from Columbia University and she lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Honeybun.

Dr. Basil A. Smikle Jr. is Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Public Policy Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. He was appointed by former Governor David Paterson to serve as the Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential cycle where he was the “second highest ranking Democrat” in the State. He holds a Ph.D. in Politics and Education and an MPA from Columbia University and received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.

UPP Professor Mehdi Heris paper on tree cover data published in the Journal of Remote Sensing

UPP Assistant Professor Mehdi Heris’s recent paper was published in the Journal of Remote Sensing. In this paper, Prof. Heris and his co-authors assessed the accuracy of the Tree Cover layer of the National Land Cover Dataset. Many researchers use this dataset for various purposes, such as understanding how trees mitigate urban heat, improve air quality, and help with stormwater management.

The research shows that National Land Cover Dataset underestimates tree cover in cities by about nine percent. He and his co-authors also offer a new predictive model that can improve the accuracy of this dataset by about three percent. This article suggests paths forward for improving the quality of urban environmental models that require tree canopy data as key model input.

This article is open access and is available here.

Upcoming Event at Roosevelt House: Xochitl Gonzalez Book Discussion

Roosevelt House at Hunter College is hosting an event with Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of "Olga Dies Dreaming," in conversation with Yarimar Bonilla, political anthropologist and the Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, on Wednesday, March 9 at 6pm.

The event will take place at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, 47-49 East 65th Street (between Madison and Park Avenues). Book signing and reception to follow. To RSVP, please click here. This event will also be streamed on Zoom.


Applications open for Excelsior Fellowship

We are pleased to announce that the Department of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College is now accepting applications for the Excelsior Fellowship program. This is a two-year fellowship program for those who have, or will have, a Master's degree by the end of Spring 2022 (i.e. graduates of the MS Urban Policy and Leadership program, the Masters of Urban Planning program, the dual degree program in Nursing Administration/Urban Policy and Leadership, the MUP/JD program graduates, and graduates of related master's programs at Hunter College).

The Excelsior Service Fellowship Program is an initiative to bring highly talented recent graduates of policy, planning, public administration, law and related graduate and professional programs into government service.  Excelsior Fellows will be placed in policy, planning and operational positions in New York State government. Excelsior Fellows start each year in early September and are placed within the Executive Chamber, a government agency or authority for a two-year fellowship. Salaries range from $60,000-$65,000 (plus full benefits) depending on experience. This year, in addition to the two seats normally made available to Hunter graduate students, the program has expanded to include the MTA, thus they will be additional placements in the field of transportation planning and policy. Note most Excelsior fellows will be based in Albany. The exception this year is that the MTA fellows are likely to be based in New York City.

Interested students, please send the following by February 24th.

  • Cover letter with expressions of interest
  • Resume
  • Transcripts (unofficial are fine)
  • Two letters of recommendation

Materials should be emailed:

Applications will be reviewed by faculty in the Department of Urban Policy and Planning during the first week of March. Students selected by the Hunter committee will then be interviewed by the Excelsior program between March 14-16.

For additional information please visit the Excelsior program website.

Prof. Matthew Lasner featured in The Guardian’s The Rent Is Too Damn High series on housing

Prof. Matthew G. Lasner is featured in "All Kinds of Discrimination: Inside the Secretive World of New York Housing Co-ops" (February 8), an article about discrimination in market-rate co-ops in New York City, and the challenges of enforcing fair-housing laws, in The Guardian’s The Rent Is Too Damn High series about housing.

Recording of book talk with UPP Professor Lily Pollans

The Graduate Urban Policy and Planning Association (GUPPA) and the Department of Urban Policy and Planning (UPP) hosted a book talk with UPP Professor Lily Pollans last Friday discussing her new book, "Resisting Garbage: The Politics of Waste Management in American Cities." The department hosted the event in person on campus and virtually on Zoom. A recording of the event is available here.

Launch Day for Fall 2021 Urban Review

The most recent issue of Urban Review is now online. The theme for this issue was “Pathways Forward,” exploring strategies in planning and policy to address crises facing urban spaces. Take a look at the issue here.


UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti on the challenges for NYC’s new mayor, Eric Adams

UPP Chair Joseph Viteritti was quoted in a January 23 Gothamist article on "Why Eric Adams Faces a Far More Difficult Test than Previous Mayors in the War on Crime." Professor Viteritti was also interviewed on WNYC's "All Things Considered," (January 27) for a spot on a different aspect of the same Gothamist story regarding Mayor Adams and the police.

Professor Viteritti was also interviewed by the French magazine Le Point (Jan. 15) for an article profiling the new mayor.

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