The Green Space Connections project is creating and activating community-designed open space at four NYCHA public housing developments with and for 14,000 residents in Brooklyn and the Bronx. To amplify the lessons of the program and empower a wider reach of New York public housing residents, Green Space Connections will produce a practical design and resources guide for non-profit organizations and resident leaders to navigate the process of bringing open space projects to their communities. 

There is a clear link between proximity to open space and overall community health. Green space has always been a critical environmental justice tool and access has never been more important to combat climate change and prepare vulnerable neighborhoods for climate resilience. 

That's why we partnered with the Public Housing Community Fund and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in 2022 to launch Green Space Connections, a three-year initiative using participatory design to create and activate green space at four NYCHA public housing developments. These four sites – Marlboro Houses and Roosevelt Houses in Brooklyn and Castle Hill Houses and Patterson Houses in the Bronx – were selected due to their documented high need in health indicators as well as climate vulnerability.

This project has further demonstrated how NYCHA communities across the five boroughs have an unprecedented opportunity to realize self-directed open space improvements. 

In response, Green Space Connections is creating a practical design guide for resident leaders and non-profit leaders. This resource will categorize common open space improvement needs at NYCHA and identify contextual standards for success. As a result, the nearly 1 in 17 New Yorkers who live in public housing will have a chance to benefit from high quality open space. 

The toolkit will collate knowledge of NYCHA’s past open space plans, design guidelines and contract requirements in one simplified publication, helping communities navigate the financial resources available to improve and activate open space in their neighborhoods.

Creating strong resident networks empowers communities to continue to advocate for public housing improvements, beyond these initial sites. Improving the surrounding physical environment at NYCHA developments through community design will have a transformative impact on the lives of public housing neighborhoods and beyond, helping to foster a more connected and green New York City landscape.

We are bringing on two new project fellows to bring this toolkit to life. Join our team and work on critical green space and public housing policy issues:

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Feb. 1, 2024.

Dive deeper into the project here and explore how residents are designing their community spaces.