Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2020

CONTACT: | (212) 306-3322


Groundbreaking initiative coordinated in partnership with the NYC Department of City Planning provides a model for reprioritizing 2,400 acres of open space at NYCHA developments.

Images of different Connected Communities projects are available for download here;
The Connected Communities guidebook is available for download here

New York – Today, the New York City Housing Authority was recognized as one of five laureate cities for the Wellbeing Cities Award. The award is given by the NewCities Foundation, a global nonprofit dedicated to highlighting emerging urban trends through actionable research. NYCHA was honored under the program theme of “supporting cohesive communities,” for its three-year effort developing the Connected Communities initiative – a framework crafted in partnership with the NYC Department of City Planning that establishes participatory methods for working with NYCHA residents around urban design projects that improve public health outcomes and connect them to neighborhood resources.

Connected Communities was developed by NYCHA and DCP through a holistic process of research, analysis, and facilitated workshops with residents and urban designers, and in close coordination with officials from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Karp Strategies, and dozens of other City agencies and nonprofits. This collaboration culminated in a reference guide that consolidates the Authority’s urban design and community engagement priorities for reshaping the more than 2,400 acres of open space NYCHA oversees throughout the five boroughs.

“In the past year, we’ve introduced a series of ideas to rethink, recapitalize, and transform the Authority,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Gregory Russ. “Connected Communities is an important part of this work and central to holistically improving every development in our portfolio. Our ability to leverage innovative public-private partnerships and employ a strong interagency approach has enabled us to significantly enhance our residents’ quality of life.”

“The residents of NYCHA are the keepers of their homes, their campuses, and their communities. They are the most important voices in any future planning proposals for NYCHA campuses. We hope that this user-friendly how-to guide offers ideas and inspirations to support NYCHA residents. We so appreciate that this award recognizes NYCHA’s and DCP’s support of NYCHA residents, helping them as they envision the future of their campuses, New York City’s most important affordable housing assets,” said DCP Director Marisa Lago.

“If we truly want to improve the quality of life in cities, it is time to stop reducing it to a collateral benefit,” said NewCities Foundation President John Rossant. “Wellbeing should be at the heart of how we plan, assess, and design our cities. Sharing ideas and experiences on the virtual stage of the 2020 Wellbeing Cities Forum helps contribute to this movement.”

As part of the award ceremony, NYCHA Chair & CEO Russ will participate in a panel discussion with key government officials from the other laureate-winning cities. They include:

  • Rafael Greca, Mayor of Curitiba, Brazil
  • Pierre Hurmic, Mayor of Bordeaux, France
  • Horacio Larreta, Mayor of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Juan Jose Mendez, Secretary of Transportation for Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Jimmy Cruz, Mayor of Curridabat, Costa Rica

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante will deliver the keynote address for this event. The Award Ceremony will kick off a three-day, all-virtual forum from September 15-17, featuring participants from over 100 cities and 50 countries, who will be sharing best practices and research on such topics as protecting urban biodiversity; providing housing for healthy communities; and rebuilding neighborhood economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For its part, Connected Communities highlights several completed or in-progress community projects that were realized in concert with other City agencies that focus on issues ranging from improving social cohesion to increasing a sense of public safety. Some notable examples include:

  • Opening the Edge: A partnership between NYCHA and the Design Trust for Public Space at Lillian Wald Houses in the Lower East Side aimed at connecting public housing residents to the surrounding community through community-designed art, performance spaces, and multi-lingual signage acknowledging the diversity of the NYCHA campus.
  • Neighborhood Activation Projects: A partnership between NYCHA, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), and the Center for Court Innovation that helps activate open space in 15 Mayor’s Action Plan sites targeted for neighborhood safety. Residents have implemented gardens, murals, and youth-centered programming to increase activity in open spaces.
  • Red Hook Farms: A collaboration between NYCHA and the nonprofit organization Green City Force that resulted in the creation of a 1.1-acre educational farm. A 2019 CUNY study found that 80 percent of NYCHA young adults who participated in the work-training program at Red Hook Farms were successful in job and college placement.
  • Cloudburst Resiliency at South Jamaica Houses: A planning program developed in coordination with the NYC Department of Environmental Planning that is the first placemaking green infrastructure project at a NYCHA campus. The project will eventually result in the first publicly funded submerged water plaza in Queens, as well as retention tanks under area basketball courts aimed at mitigating flooding.

Attendees can attend the online forum to hear more about Connected Communities and other global programs aimed at improving urban wellbeing. Interested attendees can RSVP to the Wellbeing Cities Forum by registering at


About New York City Housing Authority

The New York City Housing Authority is the largest public housing authority in North America, housing nearly 400,000 residents. NYCHA’s mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Over 390,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 316 public housing developments and PACT developments around the five boroughs. Over 190,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA- administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit, and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, connect with us via and

About the New York City Department of City Planning

The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.

In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.

About the NewCities organization
NewCities is a global nonprofit committed to shaping a better urban future, headquartered in Canada. It has a decade’s experience curating and producing innovative content about the most important emerging urban trends via events, knowledge-sharing platforms, and actionable research. NewCities brings a ‘whole-city’ approach by convening and connecting the key stakeholders of the urban ecosystem: residents, governments, academic institutions, civil society organizations, and business communities. Its activities are inspired and supported by a global network of members, whose insights help determine the most pressing topics in cities.