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This Game Lets You Tackle the Challenges of Planning Affordable Housing in NYC

New York City

Inside the Rent
Inside the Rent

June 19, 2015 — Remember SimCity? It's an open-ended city-building computer and console video game series originally designed by developer Will Wright. If games — albeit the nerdier variety — are your cup of tea, then you could easily lose hours and hours developing land. Well, how about a web-based game that lets you plan affordable housing in New York City? It's a bit more niche than SimCity, but if you play "Inside the Rent," you'll be setting up "a sustainable first-year rent for two-bedroom apartments in a hypothetical building by adjusting expense variables," according to DNAinfo. Created by Citizens Housing Planning Council, a New York City nonprofit research and education organization, with help from the cartography firm VanDam Media, the game reportedly pulls numbers from real housing scenarios in Morrisania, Stapleton, Jamaica, Mott Haven, East New York, Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, East Harlem, Harlem, Astoria, Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side. You select a neighborhood and then a target rent, and adjust factors that include building size, amenities, and construction and maintenance labor costs. Just like SimCity will throw earthquakes, fires, and other disasters at you to see how you and your simulated city cope, Inside the Rent has players seeking government subsidies for land and construction costs, as well as property tax abatements in an effort to keep rents within target. It's not easy! And as DNAinfo points out, it's "arguably the major takeaway from the game: building affordable housing is not easy." It sounds pretty cool. Wonder if Mayor Bill de Blasio already has it…

Photo from Citizens Housing Planning Council

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