Affordable Housing for All? A Policy Discussion

November 5, 2015 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Presidential Room
Faculty House 64 Morningside Drive
New York, NY 10027
United States
See video

The rent is too damn high in New York City. But why is it so high? Who is most affected by it? And what should we do? Is high rent simply a measure of a city's success? A scourge for the poor? Are the affordable housing initiatives of the De Blasio administration simple justice? A wasteful program driven by politics? These and other questions will be addressed.

A moderated Q&A will follow the discussion.

Welcome and Introduction

Provost John Coatsworth, Columbia University


Carl Weisbrod, Chairman of the New York City Planning Commission

Gilles Duranton, Dean's Chair in Real Estate Professor, Wharton

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, NYU

Moderated by Donald R. Davis, Professor of Economics and Chair, Columbia University Economics


Speaker Information

Carl Weisbrod was appointed as Director of the New York City Department of City Planning and Chairman of the New York City Planning Commission by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March, 2014. Weisbrod has more than 35 years of experience serving the people of New York. Weisbrod’s service in government extends back to the Lindsay administration, which he joined as a young lawyer at the Department of Relocation. He was appointed by Mayor Koch to spearhead the city’s efforts to transform Times Square, and he also served as the Executive Director of the New York City Department of City Planning and Chairman of the New York City Loft Board. As president of New York State’s 42nd Street Development Project, Weisbrod led the effort to revitalize Times Square, transforming it into a global hub for tourism and entertainment. Under Mayor Dinkins, Weisbrod was the Founding President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.Mayor Bloomberg appointed him as a Director of the Trust for Governors Island and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, where he helped lead the post-9/11 recovery of downtown neighborhoods. That tenure overlapped with his 10 years as the founding president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, the largest business improvement district in the nation, setting in motion the evolution of the financial district from an area dominated by daytime office workers into a thriving 24-7 neighborhood. Weisbrod also served as the President of the real estate division of Trinity Church. He is a former Trustee of the Ford Foundation and the Urban Land Institute. He was previously a partner at the firm HR&A from 2011 through February, 2014, where he managed the successful rezoning of the Hudson Square area in Manhattan into a dynamic hub for creative industries and new housing, including up to 700 affordable units.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, is Director of the Urban Planning Program at NYU Wagner and Faculty Director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. She joined the NYU Wagner faculty in the fall of 1997 and presently teaches courses in microeconomics, urban economics, and urban policy. Professor Ellen's research interests center on housing and urban policy.  She is author of Sharing America's Neighborhoods: The Prospects for Stable Racial Integration (Harvard University Press, 2000) and has written numerous journal articles and book chapters related to housing policy, community development, and school and neighborhood segregation. Before coming to NYU, Professor Ellen held visiting positions at the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. She attended Harvard University, where she received a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics, an M.P.P., and a Ph.D. in public policy.

Gilles Duranton is professor of real estate and holds the Dean’s Chair in Real Estate. He obtained his PhD in economics jointly from the London School of Economics and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His research focuses on urban and transportation issues. His empirical work is concerned with land use, urban growth and the estimation of the costs and benefits of cities and clusters. He is also interested in the effects of transportation infrastructure on urban development and the evaluation of local policies. He serves as co-editor for the Journal of Urban Economics and sits on the editorial board of several other academic journals. He is a fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research and worked as consultant on regional and urban policy for various national governments and international organisations. He was most recently the foreign advisor of a two-year mission on urban issues for the government of Colombia. He was also the 2011 president of the North American Regional Science Association and is now vice president of the Urban Economics Association.

 Co-sponsored by the Department of Economics, Columbia University and the Urban Economics Association, with generous funding and support from the Office of the Provost at Columbia University, the Program in Economic Research at Columbia University, the Sustainable Development PhD program at the School of International and Public Affairs, and the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia Business School