In 2020, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) selected Pratt Center to develop and implement a resident engagement process to ensure that the long-term Sustainability and Climate Resiliency planning for capital projects was inclusive of the NYCHA resident community. Pratt Center, working with our partner Kinetic Communities, recruited residents for a newly formed Climate Action Network, and facilitated a virtual workshop series, which offered participants an opportunity to learn about NYCHA’s climate and sustainability plans, discuss how their needs can be better incorporated by NYCHA, and develop and participate in projects to promote sustainability and resilience in NYCHA developments.
NYCHA is New York City’s biggest landlord, housing over 400,000 New Yorkers in 302 developments across the five boroughs. With the onset of climate change, these developments and the residents within face big challenges in staying safe from future climate hazards and ensuring that these communities are as sustainable as possible. Climate change is a reality in New York City: summers are getting hotter, rain is becoming heavier and more frequent, and sea level rise is making us more vulnerable to coastal flooding. On top of these challenges, NYCHA is facing a budget deficit of $40 billion in needed repairs.
In 2014, NYCHA created an office of Recovery and Resilience to repair damage at developments impacted by Hurricane Sandy, build resilience to future storms, and analyze and advise on future climate hazards. In 2016, NYCHA released its first Sustainability Agenda, which established the beginning of a road map for NYCHA to meet the challenges that climate change poses to the aging infrastructure that makes up its developments while also acknowledging the need and developing strategies to reduce NYCHA’s own impact on future hazards, while making housing healthier, safer, and more liveable for residents.
Currently, NYCHA is planning for new ways to meet their Sustainability and Resiliency challenges through the 2021 release of a Climate Adaptation Plan and an update to the 2016 Sustainability Agenda.
ACTIONS & OUTCOMES
Pratt Center created and implemented a plan for bringing a group of residents more deeply into the engagement process by forming a new group—the NYCHA Network for Climate Action—for NYCHA to work with on the challenges of building a sustainable and resilient NYCHA. Through a call for applicants, Pratt Center worked with KC3 to recruit a group of dedicated NYCHA residents to participate in a series of workshops that 1) helped to build their capacity for understanding the challenges facing NYCHA and 2) provided a space for deeper engagement around details of the plans. Pratt Center then designed and facilitated a 5-workshop series with the group of residents and NYCHA.
Pratt Center activities included:
- Designing an equitable resident recruitment process to ensure a diverse group of participants representing not just demographic diversity but locational diversity across NYCHA’s large system of housing
- Created recruitment materials and a dedicated website
- Developed and facilitated five online interactive workshops
- Provided NYCHA with an analysis of findings to ensure NYCHA resident ideas, feedback and vision were integrated into the plans