Racial Impact Report Assessment

A multicultural group of varied ages poses for a photo with RISC signs

Beginning with Bloomberg-era rezonings and continuing to the present, grassroots community activists, community boards, and everyday New Yorkers have continued to raise concerns about insufficient information surrounding the displacement impacts of planned changes to land use that precede development projects in their respective neighborhoods. Oftentimes, community stakeholders raise concerns that the information made available to the public and decision makers fails to explicitly and fully explore common points of contention for neighborhoods experiencing gentrification. In particular, displacement impacts continue to fall disproportionately on Black, Latinx and Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), yet the analytical tools employed to examine impacts fail to accurately provide stakeholders with full information about trends and the potential changes to neighborhoods catalyzed by rezoning. Consequently, neighborhoods that were once predominantly mixed income communities of color became less and less affordable and culturally reflective of existing residents.

A sign held up at an outdoor protest reads "our community! our plan!"

The Racial Impact Study Coalition (RISC), which leads a campaign that comprises of “neighborhood groups, community-based organizations, and citywide planning organizations that share a commitment to protecting our communities from racialized displacement and expanding permanently affordable housing to all neighborhoods,” successfully spearheaded the passage of Local Law 78 that was enacted by the City Council in July 2021. The legislation requires city agencies to maintain a data-driven development tool that aggregates social, economic and housing data for the entire city of New York and includes a displacement risk map that aids in assessing each community’s vulnerability to displacement. Applicants proposing major land use actions are now required to include data from the tool to compile a Racial Equity report (RER) that is included in the slate of documents provided to stakeholders involved in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process.

In effect now for a year, the racial equity reports required by the legislation and intended to make more visible the racialized displacement impacts of development should be impacting conversations in City Council, community boards, borough presidents’ offices, and among the general public; some of the impetus for this proposed research project is to further explore if that is the case. In partnership with RISC, the research team at Pratt seeks to examine the implementation of the racial equity reports. The goal of the research is to take an early look at how the reports are being utilized by decision makers; to understand where there are gaps in their use; and to create policy recommendations to address those gaps. This project is intended to contribute to RISC’s broader efforts, which include the coalition’s current work with designers through the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and technical assistance providers to increase awareness and use of the data tools.

A diverse group of people stands smiling on a porch holding a large plan

While the racial equity reports are available both to the general public and to all entities engaged in the ULURP process, we will focus the Racial Impact Report Assessment on community boards, the unit of government closest to those directly impacted by development decisions. The Pratt researchers also have a particular interest in the effective participation of community boards in local decision-making. The researchers’ personal journeys and identities will serve as a useful perspective for the proposed research.

Project Year



  • Eve BaronChairperson and Adjunct Associate Professor Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
  • Alex de Rege MS Urban and Community Planning '24
  • Roman LombardoMS Urban and Community Planning '24