Recent, tragic residential building fires in NYC and Philadelphia are a wake up call for housing safety reform.
One may assume government owned and operated affordable housing would meet basic standards for safety. Yet, in two iconic American cities, two deadly fires devastated vulnerable citizens. However, two promising solutions were inspired by Washington, D.C., a city with their fair share of urban challenges.
Lack of Safety | In both the New York and Philadelphia fires, basic safety precautions, such as working smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire doors, were either not present or not operational. Like the Surfside condo collapse, these tragedies were preventable.
Third-Party Oversight | One solution could be independent contractors working alongside city inspectors to increase the frequency and accountability of mandated safety checks. Such an approach could have saved lives.
Repurpose Existing Inventory | Another solution proposes rezoning vacant office buildings – which already have a safety infrastructure in place – in urban areas to meet affordable housing needs.
Housing Equity Matters | Grappling with the need for safe, equitable communities is necessary to fully recover from the insidious economic impacts of the pandemic on our most vulnerable citizens.
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