Seven small and midsize cities participating in New York University Furman Center’s Housing Solutions Lab

The City of Syracuse announced today its participation in a nationally-funded policy initiative for small and midsize cities to advance innovative, evidence-based solutions to address their pressing housing challenges.

The Housing Solutions Lab, led by an interdisciplinary team from the New York University (NYU) Furman Center with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will help cities to plan, develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate promising local housing policies that advance equity and opportunity for Syacuse residents. While large coastal cities often receive the majority of policy attention for their housing challenges, the Housing Solutions Lab will focus on serving cities with populations under 500,000.

“Working with our partner cities through the Housing Solutions Lab has allowed us an inside look at how other communities have addressed complicated housing issues related to the pandemic. Having the opportunity to problem solve with other housing experts across the country  has led to more effective engagement with our constituents whose shelter has been in jeopardy throughout the recent experienced housing crisis,” said Michael Collins, commissioner of the City’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development (NBD). “I’d like to thank NYU’s Furman Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for selecting Syracuse to be a part of the efforts to create policy solutions rooted in equity and affordable, quality housing options.”

In order to foster shared learning and innovation among city leaders, one component of the Lab’s work will be to host housing policy peer networks with cities across the country. Syracuse was selected to participate in the inaugural group, which also includes Arlington, TX; Boulder, CO; Cleveland, OH; Jackson, MS; Oakland, CA; and Pittsburgh, PA.

Learning how other cities in the network have engaged constituents on housing issues has allowed the City to make the most of its community partners. During NBD’s time within the network, working relationships with local agencies have been strengthened.  Through strategic collaborations, the NBD team has connected tenants to free legal assistance; worked closely with the Onondaga County Social Services – Economic Security to make rental assistance available; and maximized the capacity of the Peacemaking Center’s Neighborhood Ambassadors, connecting tenants to housing resources and Code Enforcement.

“Through our first Housing Solutions peer network, we’ve gained incredibly valuable insights into the ways that small and midsize cities are tackling housing instability and a variety of other concerns, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Martha Galvez, Executive Director of the Housing Solutions Lab. “Working with the team from the City of Syracuse and the other network cities has helped lay the foundation for our new Housing Solutions Lab, which will take the next step to identify and share the most successful policy solutions that are steeped in values of racial equity, cross-sector collaboration, and elevating the voice of marginalized communities.””

The Housing Solutions Lab provides the following services to cities:

●             Policy and Data Analysis: Helping cities to use data to design, adapt and monitor local housing programs and policies

●             Policy Evaluations: Developing and conducting evaluations to examine the effectiveness of local housing policies and programs

●             Technical Assistance: Assisting cities with real-time policy and program implementation

●             Peer Support: Facilitating connections between city leaders to foster shared learning, support, and innovation

●             Dissemination: Collaborating with localities to develop and disseminate policy products that highlight successful strategies and outcomes 

Learn more about the Housing Solutions Lab at

About the NYU Furman Center: The NYU Furman Center advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. Established in 1995, it is a joint center of the New York University School of Law and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. More information can be found at and @FurmanCenterNYU.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: For more than 45 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

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