Urbanist coming to Chattanooga to speak about potential solutions to affordable housing crisis

Urbanist coming to Chattanooga to speak about potential solutions to affordable housing crisis

April 15th, 2019 by Joan McClane in Local Regional News

Karen Kubey / Photo by Sharif Khalje

Photo by Sharif Khalje

Urbanist Karen Kubey will speak at a free and open event at the Camp House Tuesday night about potential solutions to the local and national affordable housing crisis.

Kubey, visiting associate professor at Pratt Institute specializing in housing and health, was brought to Chattanooga by the American Institute of Architects of Chattanooga and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise. Her speech is part of AIA's Chattanooga Design Discourse Series and CNE's "Housing at a Glance" Discussion Series. She guest-edited Housing as Intervention: Architecture towards Social Equity (Architectural Design).

The evening will begin with CNE-led group discussions at 6 p.m. about attendees' "understanding of, and experiences with, affordable housing." CNE published "Housing at a Glance," a publication intended to stir local discussions about affordable housing, at the end of March. Kubey will begin speaking at 6:30 p.m. and will share case studies of successful affordable housing projects, as well as examples of her own housing work in New York. She also will talk about ways to bring architects, policy and finance experts and community leaders together to solve problems.

"We can't address affordable housing unless we have people who understand multiple strategies at the table," said Alexa LeBoeuf, policy advocate at CNE. "It is exciting that there are multiple organizations who want to do something about this."

Architects are often overlooked in discussions about local housing policy and development, said Sarah Page, president elect of AIA Chattanooga and an architect at Workshop Architecture. Developers often hire architects because they are required to hire them, not because they want socially conscious design or to create affordable housing options.

"Housing and development is a contentious issue. We want to educate the public and government officials about some of these issues," Page said. "Architecture has a bad reputation for being elitist and 'naval gazy' and self centered, but the board doesn't think that should be the role of architects. We are problem solvers, but we aren't the decision makers. We can help find solutions to problems in our community through design, but the people making decisions need the strategies."