In New York City and across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. This crisis threatens to shutter small businesses and expand the racial wealth gap in neighborhoods that already lack access to resources and capital as a result of long-term structural inequity and racism. In response, the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute launched Neighborhoods Now to channel pro-bono resources from New York-based design firms into community-driven recovery strategies.

In May 2020, the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute offered to advise members of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of community organizations across New York City, on their reopening strategies. Throughout the summer, these organizations collaborated with coalitions of architects, engineers, lawyers, and planners from Van Alen and Urban Design Forum’s collective network. Together, they have developed tailored solutions for shared gathering spaces, including restaurants, storefronts, civic and cultural organizations, parks, and streets.

To commemorate and reflect on Neighborhoods Now, we are hosting a two-part public forum with our participating designers and our community partners in Bed-Stuy, Washington Heights, Kingsbridge and the Northwest Bronx, Jackson Heights, and the Lower East Side to discuss their work and goals for the future.

Part 2 of the Summit convenes the Bed-Stuy Restoration, Bed-Stuy BID, Washington Heights, University Neighborhood Housing Program, and Cooper Square Committee working groups to discuss their achievements, their goals for the future, and the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to recovery.