Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation’s (CHLDC) Project Verde is a multi-year sustainability initiative in Cypress Hills and East New York. As part of this project, Pratt Center provided extensive planning, research and technical assistance to CHLDC in the development of a Green Master Plan – a comprehensive local strategy to develop and integrate affordable housing, community facilities, economic development, food, health & wellness, open space, street-scape, transportation, waste & sanitation, and youth development resources. We first engaged in extensive research to identify the biggest challenges facing the residents of Cypress Hills/East New York. Designed by Pratt Center and conducted by CHLDC, a Community Satisfaction Survey was distributed to and completed by more than 600 Cypress Hills/ENY residents to assess local concerns about living, working, eating and learning.
Broadly, the challenges identified by the survey include: barriers to employment; poorly maintained existing housing and a demand for affordable housing; inadequate waste and sanitation systems that make rodents and bugs prevalent; long commutes to work and the reliance on public transportation; poor layout and maintenance of streetscapes that directly correlates to neighborhood safety and crime; a lack of activities for youth, adequate community facilities, and open space, and playgrounds, both in quality and number; and the high cost of and inaccessibility to fresh food. These challenges are interconnected and cannot be assessed individually.
The key findings of the Cypress Hills Community Wellness survey break responses into three subjects: living, working, and learning. Living data includes responses to questions about housing, health and wellness, open space, and social capital and safety. Working data includes responses to questions about job satisfaction and local barriers to employment. Learning data includes responses to questions about needed community facilities, education, and eating and grocery shopping behavior, including school lunch programs.
In collaboration with CHLDC, we then utilized the findings from this survey to design and organize their Verde Summit, an inclusive, bi-lingual two-day community planning event in which community members came together to re-envision the way their neighborhoods look, feel and work. Click here for more information on the Summit and the community’s sustainability vision and strategy.