Complete Neighborhoods

How can the next mayor plan a fairer future for every neighborhood?


Not all New York City neighborhoods are created equal. Central neighborhoods typically benefit from the city’s diversifying economy, world-class parks, and rebuilt streetscapes, while communities of color generally shoulder essential infrastructure like waste facilities and homeless shelters. Though previous administrations have created citywide strategic plans, the city currently lacks a guiding vision for how each neighborhood might strike a better balance between amenities and infrastructure.

  1. 1.

    Shape a proactive, long-term plan for every corner of the city.

    • Challenge: The City does not currently have a comprehensive plan. Previous strategic plans, like PlaNYC and OneNYC, did not specify a vision for neighborhood development and lacked a planning mandate.

    • Embrace comprehensive long-term planning that marries every neighborhood’s vision with a citywide approach for infrastructure and development.

    • Use people-focused data to inform fairer public investments and future development.

  2. 2.

    Marshal public investments to neighborhoods most in need.

    • Challenge: The City’s capital budget was dramatically cut during the pandemic by $2.3 billion, disproportionately underfunding housing initiatives and public realm revitalization in historically underinvested neighborhoods.

    • Develop a capital budget process informed by both community-driven needs assessments and a citywide physical needs assessment.

    Case Study

    Paris – Participatory Budgeting
  3. 3.

    Hold communities and elected officials accountable to building critical infrastructure in every neighborhood.

    • Challenge: The current planning process enables power and privilege in affluent white neighborhoods to obstruct difficult but essential development. In turn, this leads to an overconcentration of unwanted critical infrastructure like shelters, community jails, and waste plants in historically underinvested Black and brown communities.

    • Use the bully pulpit to balance neighborhood and citywide development goals and lift up voices that are under-represented.

    • Invest in ongoing community engagement infrastructure in all Community Boards in order to ensure that difficult facilities are welcomed assets.

    Case Study

    London — Public Practice

These recommendations are authored by Urban Design Forum. We thank our advisors who provided helpful insights, suggestions, and guidance throughout the working group process.