Home News Paris shows how to make public housing greener and more habitable at the same time
Card image cap

Paris shows how to make public housing greener and more habitable at the same time


GRIST climate justice solutions


Colin Kinniburgh


When U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman visited his childhood home in Harlem’s East River Houses last winter, he was struck by a piece of graffiti at the entrance.
The tag read, simply, “Help.”

For Bowman, it was a fitting testament to the state of New York City’s public housing, which aims to provide “safe, affordable housing” too low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

In recent years, however, the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, has become a poster child of environmental injustice and government neglect.

The agency faces a $40 billion backlog of lead paint, mould, heat and gas outages, and myriad other problems to fix.

This has translated into a public health crisis for its half-million residents — more than the population of Atlanta, Georgia — which, like so many other symptoms of inequality, has only deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sustainability in the ongoing running costs of housing remains largely aspirational in many parts of the world.

But such a transformation is well underway in other cities around the world — perhaps none more than Paris, which has been retrofitting thousands of public housing units per year for more than a decade.
The city’s ambitious retrofit campaign may offer some insights into how housing authorities could make essential repairs while also reducing building emissions, and respecting tenants’ rights during tricky renovations.

Read Article