Community Design for Affordable Homes and Sustainable Places
In 2009, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Westchester County reached an agreement to create 750 affordable homes with the Westchester Fair and Affordable Housing Settlement. In recent years, there have been disputes around whether real progress has been made.
The impasse required a new and integrated approach that would incorporate affordable housing as part of a larger vision for municipalities. Utilizing Community Design Institutes that combined technology, planning research and charrette techniques, stakeholders were able to generate development scenarios with live feedback on the impacts on infrastructure and visual appearance.
Workshop participants created 3D physical models that were mirrored in a platform developed with Tygron Next Generation Planner software together with WXY planners, providing immediate data outputs such as rates of return, impact on property taxes, eligibility for affordable housing grants, number of schoolchildren, percentage of educational costs covered by taxes, parking requirements, and traffic generated. The feedback loop allowed stakeholders to adjust their models.
As a result, town officials were able to consider what kinds of zoning changes could be considered. Developers became aware of what key issues they could address to gain the approval of neighbors and concessions from the municipality. Neighbors were able to understand the development challenges and to suggest amenities that would provide community-wide benefits. The process of integrating information with site design and role-playing makes the development transparent, negotiable, and ultimately more efficient and beneficial for the range of stakeholders.