On Monday, May 7th, Milano welcomed long-time leader in the affordable housing movement, Carol Lamberg, as she celebrated the launch of her first book, Neighborhood Success Stories: Creating and Sustaining Affordable Housing in New York. From 1983 to 2014, Lamberg was the Executive Director of the Settlement Housing Fund, one of the city’s largest and most innovative sponsors of affordable housing. Settlement Housing Fund has developed over 8,700 apartments across the city, including two of their most infamous projects, New Settlement in the Bronx and Two Bridges located between the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges. In a room filled with Lamberg’s affordable housing colleagues and New School students and alumni, Lamberg recounted her days at Settlement Housing Fund with stories of the history and obstacles of building some of the most successful mixed income buildings in the city.
Critics of mixed income affordable housing often express concern about the effects such buildings have on their neighborhoods. Lamberg’s work in the affordable housing movements dispels this notion. As she emphasized throughout her presentation, the Two Bridges and New Settlement “proves that mixed income buildings don’t have negative effects on neighborhoods.” In fact, they improve neighborhoods by providing residents access to services and community areas such as a health clinic, dance studios, a swimming pool, roof garden, and many more spaces to help residents thrive. Lamberg also emphasized how these buildings and housing programs created economic and ethnic diversity in these neighborhoods. However, simply constructing these buildings and spaces are not Lamberg’s proudest achievement, she noted that “the real success was the families.” With almost 30% of all renters in New York paying more than half of their income on rent, Lamberg provides a much needed perspective to help make affordable housing a reality. Lamberg’s new book provides hope and encouragement in a political climate threatening to make safe, healthy, and affordable homes out of reach for the lowest income households.