News from Pratt Center: September 2023

    Table of Contents

  1. A Note from Alexa Kasdan
  2. Let’s Get EnergyFit
  3. Launching Clean Energy Hubs
  4. A Memorial for Victims of Hurricane Ida
  5. Community Land Trusts Gaining Ground
  6. Meet Pratt Center’s Graduate Fellows!
  7. What’s Coming Up
  8. What We’re Reading

A Note from Alexa Kasdan

Headshot of director Alexa Kasdan, wearing black turtle neck sweater against light, white background.

It’s been a little over two weeks since starting in my new role at Pratt Center, and already I’ve been energized by meeting and reconnecting with so many colleagues. I’ve spent time getting to know the team at Pratt Center as well as other faculty and staff at Pratt Institute. All these connections and conversations have reinforced my belief that the team at Pratt Center–along with the expertise and resources at Pratt Institute– has so much to offer New York City communities that are fighting for equity and social justice.

In just two weeks I have seen the way Pratt Center engages with communities and uses policy, research, and planning expertise to strengthen community efforts. I’ve also seen the way Pratt Center is there for the long haul, not just proposing new ideas, but working alongside communities to make sure policies and government programs are implemented in a way that centers equity and has an impact on those most in need. 


Let’s Get EnergyFit

black and white line drawing with green accents. Cartoon street of varied types of houses and apartments with solar panels, rain barrels, gardens, and a truck that says "Make your home energy fit"
EnergyFit Affordable Small Homes is made possible through community project funding introduced by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. Additional funding has been generously provided by JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the 11th Hour Project.

Home assessments have begun for homeowners in Central Brooklyn who are seeking to make their buildings more energy efficient, less polluting and more comfortable to live in. Eligible homes will receive roughly $20,000 in energy efficiency and electrification upgrades through the EnergyFit Affordable Small Homes program, which is a collaboration between Pratt Center, IMPACCT Brooklyn, Cypress Hills LDC and NYS Energy Audits. The program aims to enlist 75 two- and three-family homes, and has the potential to impact 150-225 households.

By combining home electrification and energy efficiency measures with much needed repairs, EnergyFit’s holistic approach aims to streamline the retrofit experience for homeowners, and reduce the bureaucratic hurdles they often face in navigating multiple energy programs.

This project will also generate crucial data about the implementation costs and benefits of clean energy upgrades in NYC’s two and three-family market, just as funding from the Inflation Reduction Act starts to flow to New York. 

To learn more about what data we are collecting, why it’s needed, and how this can improve government policy and program design, check out our newest paper, Expanding EnergyFit: A Community-Led Model for Equitable Energy in Small Homes.” 

Launching Clean Energy Hubs

A group of female presenting folks gathered on a rooftop patio smiles for the camera.
Team members gathered September 20, 2023 to celebrate the launch of the Manhattan Clean Energy Hub and the unveiling of, a virtual hub to connect Manhattan residents, community organizations, and small businesses to clean energy opportunities.

Pratt Center is collaborating with a team of organizations to launch Regional Clean Energy Hubs for Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island! These hubs, funded by NYSERDA, will connect New Yorkers to low- and no-cost renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and support residents in accessing clean energy jobs. A particular focus is to connect low- and moderate-income residents and people of color to these services.

Each Hub is made up of a team of trusted community-based organizations. We are excited to be working with our partners WE ACT, Kinetic Communities Consulting KC3), ANHD, and Green City Force in Manhattan; and KC3, NHS Queens, Neighborhoods for a Sustainable Future, New Women New Yorkers, the Youth WINS Coalition, and BOC Network in Queens and Staten Island.

Pratt Center’s role is conducting research to identify barriers and opportunities to accessing clean energy resources in these three boroughs. As part of this project, we have developed a survey to help us understand ways to connect people to these programs and opportunities. If you are a resident of Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island, please complete and share the survey for a chance to win a $100 gift card.


A Memorial for Victims of Hurricane Ida

Man in plaid shirt with beard and sunglasses speaks into microphone with neon posters lining an iron fence behind him.

In recognition of the second anniversary of Hurricane Ida, Pratt Center joined our partners in the Basement Apartments Safe for Everyone (BASE) coalition in a multi-day memorial to the New Yorkers who lost their lives. Starting on September 1st at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens, Chhaya CDC displayed a memorial banner with space for community members to gather and contribute messages and memories. The banner then traveled to Cypress Hills LDC, where residents from East New York, home to the Basement Conversion Pilot Program, added to the banner.  Read More

Community Land Trusts Gaining Ground

Woman speaks as other panelists look on, with screen showing report in background.

We were thrilled to have over 250 in-person and virtual attendees at our September 12th panel discussion on community land trusts in NYC, co-hosted by New Economy Project and NYC Community Land Initiative. The event highlighted recent victories by CLTs in the Rockaways, East New York and Mott Haven/Port Morris, as well as policy recommendations examined in our recent report CLTs Gaining Ground in NYC. We learned so much from our panelists on the importance of CLTs in building community wealth and power and their value in participatory planning. Watch the recording and read BK Reader’s coverage of the event.

Meet Pratt Center’s Graduate Fellows!

group of four black and white headshots. all young women with dark hair, smiling.

Pratt Center welcomed four Graduate Fellows to our team this fall to work alongside staff members on a variety of planning, policy, and sustainability projects.

Read the Announcement

What’s Coming Up

Disrupting DC Book Talk
9/29/23 at 5:30 pm
Pratt Brooklyn

Executive Director Alexa Kasdan will be co-moderating a book discussion with the authors of Disrupting DC: The Rise of Uber and the Fall of the City next Friday along with colleagues from Pratt GCPE and Pratt SAVI. The book provides a panoramic account of the urban politics and deep social divisions that gave rise to Uber in Washington D.C., and what’s needed in contemporary struggles for the right to the city. Free and open to the public.

RSVP Required

ANHD’s Fight Forward Conference

Our team is looking forward to attending ANHD’s 12th annual Community Development Conference Series, which kicks off October 3rd at 5:30 pm with a live streamed conversation on the past, present and future of community development. In-community events are scheduled throughout October, including walking and bus tours and conversations on land use, housing, small business, public space, and more.

View the Full Schedule

What We’re Reading

Energy Insufficiency

With a mission to create green jobs and bring green-energy loans to the poor, BlocPower has gained powerful backers in tech, finance, and government. Where are the results?
(American Prospect)

Landlord group was one of biggest spenders on lobbyists last year

The group “Homeowners for an Affordable New York” paid $1.4 million to a single lobbying firm to fight “good cause” eviction protections.
(City & State)

City Pitches 4K Apartments for Industrial Central Brooklyn Stretch

“The zoning they presented last night will drive all of the industrial uses out of the zone,” CB8 Member Gib Veconi predicts.
(City Limits)


21 Sep, 2023