Provided by the Urban Democracy Lab

By the end of the first term of the new mayor, 62,810 city-backed affordable housing units will face expiring-use (expiration of their affordability) in New York City. Now is the time for New York City to adopt a steadfast approach to affordable housing. This crisis requires public policy that removes housing from the speculative market and expands its supply. The NYC Social Housing Development Authority: A People-First Housing Engine for New York City is a detailed report that recommends municipality backed social housing. A Social Housing Development Authority in NYC,  if established by city and state, can both move real-estate away from the private market and reserve them for community control. It is a people-first strategy that acknowledges housing as a right, not a commodity.

The NYC Social Housing Development Authority: A People-First Housing Engine for New York City was co-authored by the Urban Democracy Lab, a university-based initiative that believes universities can play a critical civic role in promoting social justice scholarship, curricular innovation, public engagement, and programming. We are inspired by the idea of a social lab, and promote experimentation and collaboration, to identify systemic solutions. Municipal social housing is not a novel concept; international communities have used this strategy and seen varying levels of success. SHDA combines global examples (like social housing in Vienna, Austria) with locally held mechanisms such as TOPA and the Housing our Neighbors with Dignity Act, to propose a model adapted for the City. Critical to the work in this report are our incredible organizers at Housing Justice For All. Housing Justice For All is a statewide movement of tenants and homeless New Yorkers who fight for tenant and homeless centered policy changes at the local, state and federal level.



by Megan Smith

Covid-19 perpetuated a worldwide pause in which problems of the city unit such as spatial justice, urban planning and living, food production, and city architecture became more salient and were critically analyzed. The realities of climate change also became clear as the cessation of global travel and social-economic activities improved air quality and decreased water pollution (Rume & Islam, 2020). As the world begins to reopen, humans have the opportunity to use the insight gained from the societal closures to reimagine new cityscapes and develop environmentally-conscious living practices. OTH has gathered relevant recent episodes of podcasts discussing topics in the Urban humanities, a field that has been addressing these problems since long before the pandemic and offers innovative ideas, practices, and solutions to living sustainably and rebuilding more equitable cities.

Rume, T., & Islam, S. (2020). Environmental effects of COVID-19 pandemic and potential strategies of sustainability. Heliyon, 6(9), e04965.

Urban Homesteading- Heirloom Skills and Permaculture


Architecture and Design

“For Trey Trahan, founder of Trahan Architects, human connection, ecology, and unvarnished beauty encompass the core ethos of his work which primarily focuses on creating cultural architectural spaces. With roots in New Orleans, and their global perspective based in New York, they have risen to the rank of the number one design firm by Architect 50, an official publication of the American Institute of Architects. He leads his firm with the conviction of bringing humility and awareness into a mindful design process to create authentic spaces that elevate our lives and the human experience.” via reSITE


Spatial Justice

“We often think of our cities and towns as their own entities in control of what they do, and for a good part history they have been. On this episode, we’re going to look at how emerging tensions with states and the erosion of  Local Control has been playing out in our communities and impacting spatial issues including the environment, economic development, and social issues.” via Isn’t that Spatial


Public Water Access and Sustainability


Digital Society