Mark Willis


Revival of Cities

Ep. 53 - Mark Willis's life work is about stabilizing and revitalizing cities, with a strong focus on New York City, but creating theory and systems which would work throughout the country. He feels it is crucial to bridge between theory and practice when it comes to providing affordable housing and community development. He discusses the need for inclusion and equality when reviving neighborhoods in legacy cities. Find out how the affordable housing sector is reinventing New York by transforming hotels and office space into residential space. Hear his thoughts on Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac as they relate to multifamily housing.

Top Takeaways:

    • The effects of COVID-19 on housing stability policies that support good quality affordable housing
    • The importance of rebuilding cities to increase the chances of equal opportunities in resource distribution across neighborhoods.
    • The difference between housing development and community development
    • How to focus on racial inclusion in housing stability currently and the future

Listen in to learn the importance of housing and resource stability in people's lives especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It can be very transformational if people are open to diversity and open to making sure everyone prospers, not just a few." -Mark Willis

Mark A. Willis is the Senior Policy Fellow at New York University's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, conducting research, writing, and speaking on such urban-related policy issues as affordable housing, housing finance reform, community development lending and investment, and the Community Reinvestment Act. Before joining the Center, Mark was a Visiting Scholar at the Ford Foundation, sharing his learnings and insights on working with government, community groups, and the financial services industry to stabilize and revitalized urban areas. Mark founded Chase's Community Development Corporation and held a number of positions including President of the Chase Manhattan Foundation and Executive Vice President for Community Development.

Mark has taught Housing and Community Development Policy at New York University's Law and Wagner Schools. He has a B.A. degree in economics from Yale University, a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. degree in urban economics and industrial organization from Yale University.

Learn why there is a need to increase the housing supply to achieve affordability.

Key Moments

Mark explains how he's recognized as a fellow in organizations, having been in the affordable housing industry for a long time [2:56]

The role of the signature report of the New York center as the 'encyclopedia' with all sort of data concerning New York [4:11]

The effects of housing stability in people's lives in New York especially now during the COVID-19 season [5:18]

The policies that support an increase in the supply of affordable housing to help people find good quality housing and stay home [6:20]

How the affordable housing sector is reinventing New York by transforming hotels and office space into residential space [9:07]

Why New York will still look attractive even with a lot of changes in the future [12:10]

The role of Fannie and Freddie in the multifamily sector and whether they should be privatized [13:44]

Why the revival of cities is a great opportunity for equal distribution of resources in different neighborhoods [17:20]

The importance of a relationship between other sectors with housing [19:59]

Mark explains why there's a need to focus on legacy cities to change the state of living there [21:41]

He explains the role of CRA as an accruement for the community act passed in 1977 and how it brought reforms in outcome measure in the 90s [23:12]

The challenge of developing neighborhoods and communities to provide equal opportunities to all [27:02]

How to bridge theory and practice when it comes to community development [29:18]

Why there's a need for increasing housing supply for affordability to be achieved [30:13]

Mark explains why the current generation should work towards diversity and ensuring housing stability [31:17]


Furman Center

Marron Institute

Architectural League


LinkedIn Mark Willis

Skyscraper Museum


Community Wealth


Lyn Sagalynn

Judith Hermanson

William Lilley

YouTube Video

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