Turning Food Deserts Into Oases: Why New York’s Public Housing Should Encourage Commercial Development
Concern about ways to combat health problems affecting low-income Americans has included concern about areas with insufficient access to fresh food at reasonable prices, so-called food deserts. New York City has, for almost a decade, pursued a policy based on tax and zoning incentives to attract supermarkets to such low-income areas, which often include public housing.
Yet unlike neighborhood commercial districts, where sites for new supermarkets may be difficult to assemble, public-housing properties and the land on which they stand are owned by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)—potentially reducing the hurdles. Indeed, more supermarkets and other retail stores on NYCHA properties could improve the health of residents, enhance public safety, and help the dire finances of America’s largest public-housing authority.