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A voice for sound housing policy.

While growing up in a one of New York City's most prominent real estate families, Joseph Rose was taught to think of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) as the voice of reason and vision concerning housing policy in the city.

Today, the 33-year-old Rose is the executive director of CHPC, which serves as a watchdog, civic resource, and advocate of sound governmental planning and policy in the area of housing. He has chosen to devote his time to public life and teaching while his relatives continue to pursue real estate investment and development.

"I've always been interested in housing and trying to help city government provide the best services in an economically viable way," said Rose who graduated from Yale and attended the Harvard graduate school of government.

According to Rose, since it was founded in 1937, CHPC has been dedicated to the causes of adequate housing for low- and moderate-income families, as well as promoting rational, realistic and fair city planning.

Rose, who has been executive director of CHPC for the past three years, explained that CHPC was originally created during the Great Depression to fight slums. It has become an organization composed of professionals who combine technical expertise, political savvy and social conscience to solve housing problems through a broad coalition of public and private interests.

Rose attributes much of CHPC's success to the efforts of its board and membership, which includes experts from the fields of housing, urban planning, finance, law, real estate, architecture, social work, education, community groups and civic organizations.

"CHPC draws upon the highest level of expertise to grapple with questions of housing policy from the perspective of what is best for the city," Rose said. "It's not a matter of |us versus them' but of helping city government to remain goal-oriented in providing the best services in a cost-effective way."

As the Dinkins administration presses for the creation of a new independent agency charged with homeless services, CHPC continues to warn against the institutionalism of the current "dysfunctional" system dealing with the city's homeless population.

Unfortunately, Rose noted, the city's efforts to deal with plans for the homeless have largely been a failure, if not a disaster, with annual expenditures soaring to more than half a billion dollars while record numbers of families overwhelm the city's shelter system.

Testifying before the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare earlier this year, Rose stated that the current approach to providing assistance to the homeless has been ineffective and must be discarded, especially in light of the admission that conditions are likely to get worse in the next few years with a 50 percent increase in the number of homeless families in emergency shelters

"This committee and the council as a whole can perform a vital service by forcing city government to confront the underlying policy choices, which have long been avoided and by demanding explicit statements about what a goals and standards a revamped homeless system will employ," Rose said in his testimony on March 31, 1993. "Few areas of city government are as in need of effective council oversight and budgetary supervision."

Rose claimed that the current predicament of the homeless system evolved from a haphazard series of court decisions, consent decrees and city programs, instead of being purposely established with distinct goals and performance criteria.

He argued that the only hope the administration's revised homeless plan has for avoiding a sharp incease in the number and expense of families in emergency shelters is to embark upon an aggressive homeless prevention strategy, coupled with more stringent and enforceable eligibility determinations

"The city recognizes it should be out of it, too, it has only been doing it for 10 years," said Rose, who served as a special assistant to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from 1981 to 1983. "Once you're in it, to get out is not so easy, but the City of New York cannot possibly continue to spend $35,000 each year to shelter a family that is holding out for a preferred housing option."

A former chairman of Community Planning Board 5 in Midtown Manhattan, Rose was instrumental in creating the Midtown Children's Project in the ballroom at the Martinique Hotel, located at 32nd Street and Broadway. Under the project, in 1985, programs were brought into the shelter by renovating and using the ballroom at the Martinique, which was the city's largest temporary shelter at the time housing 450 families and 1,500 children.

Another major problem facing the city, Rose stated, is the city's inventory of occupied in rem housing, which has stubbornly remained at more than 40,000 units. Meanwhile, Rose added, the management of these properties is costing the city more than $200 million each year, which is almost two-thirds of its housing expense budget.

"Our main area of focus is preserving the city's low-income housing stock at a time of fiscal constraint," said Rose who currently teaches at Columbia University's graduate school of architecture. "The economy of low-income housing is bleak. Conversions in the '90s have all but disappeared and costs are rising dramatically."

A CHPC report on preserving New York's low-income housing stock concluded that providing impoverished families with a modest increase in the shelter allowance to meet the true costs of their housing is much cheaper than providing that family with emergency housing in a homeless shelter. According to the report, failure to adjust the welfare sheter allowance to provide for increased housing costs is counter-productive from an economic perspective as well as a humanitarian one.

Rose observed that water and sewer charges, though intended to encourage conservation and generate revenues for capital improvements, in many cases, are highly regressive in their economic impact. If already marginal buildings are required to pay additional 10s of thousands of dollars each year, no one should be surprised if many of these buildings end up in city ownership

"With skyrocketing water rates, we have to recognize the housing implications resulting from the new water billing system," Rose said

Rose stated that while the city is moving from a system in which the water and sewer system was financed through taxes to one in which it is financed through user fees, there is a pressing need for city policy to strike a reasonable balance between the financial requirements of the water and sewer system infrastructure, the need to encourage conservation of water resources and the necessity to preserve the low- and moderate-income housing stock.

To deal with this problem, CHPC has recommended placing a 15 percent cap on the increase in water and sewer fees for any building in a given year to allow buildings with very high consumption to make a more orderly transition to the higher rate structure while providing time for conservation measures to be implemented. A further recommendation by CHPC is that the city's in rem stock should be billed for water and sewer services, thus generating a data base for the study of water and sewer services to low-income housing.

Still, on another issue of major concern, Rose has been actively pushing for repeal of the Wicks law, which he describes as an areane statute governing public construction projects. The Wicks law, he pointed out, prohibits the standard practice of hiring one coordinating general contractor, which, in effect, prevents effective supervision of public construction.

According to Rose, a 1987 report by the State Division of Budget conservatively estimated that the law costs New York State and local government more than $300 million a year. He said a new bill in the state legislature, if passed, would give state and local governments the right to choose whatever contracting procedure they consider most cost-effective.

Assemblyman Steve Sanders and Senator Roy Goodman have introduced a bill in the state legislature to eliminate the multiple contracting requirements for government construction projects. CHPC believes this is a major breakthrough for the coalition of government, civic and labor groups who have joined to battle the contracting statutes, which are widely criticized as being wasteful and inefficient.

Rose also recently testified
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Title Annotation:profile of Joseph B. Rose of Citizens Housing and Planning Council of New York, New York
Author:Alger, Derek
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Biography
Date:Jun 2, 1993
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