Housing & Planning

PennPraxis’ planning projects bring together all of our practice areas, uniting heritage with spatial analytics and design, and are always anchored by an approach to community engagement where residents and local experts drive the content and process. Our planning projects have spanned topics from public health, open space programming and development, civic assets management, growth management, night-time and cultural planning, to housing policy. As with all of our projects, faculty and students from all disciplines are brought together to tackle a variety of planning and policy challenges, that bring creative solutions to clients in our own backyard, to municipalities and other institutions across the country and globe.

Services include:
  • Economic development
  • Community health
  • Equitable development
  • Night-time culture and cultural planning

Housing Initiative at Penn (HIP)

The Housing Initiative housed at PennPraxis has a mission to achieve more effective and equitable housing policy at the local, state, and national levels.

 Covid-19 virion over a cartoon of a house

For many low-income renters, and for many non-white communities, COVID-19 is exacerbating several issues related to economic vulnerability, displacement, and housing instability.

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Vincent Reina and Claudia Aiken have conducted a detailed study about access to housing assistance in Philadelphia’s Asian and Latino/a communities.

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Vincent Reina and Claudia Aiken, with research assistance from Jane Christen and Jason Schunkewitz, prepared a comprehensive housing study for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA).

Aerial photo of urban region of Cincinnati.

The Community-Wide Housing Strategy is a community-driven housing plan for Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

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Housing for Equity is Philadelphia’s first-ever housing plan. It sets production and preservation targets for the next 10 years and outlines a set of actions that the City will take in concert with partners in the non-profit, for-profit, and philanthropic sectors to achieve those targets.

Man putting sticky notes on a poster board in a large conference space

PennPraxis is working with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) and a team of community-driven consultants from across Philadelphia to shape the identity of the future Park at Penn’s Landing.

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PennPraxis is working with the Borough of Glassboro, New Jersey on a Growth Management Plan, to direct the borough in working strategically with Rowan University and other landowners.

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PennPraxis is at the international forefront of the emerging field of nightlife arts and culture planning. With formal and informal working relationships with “Night Mayors” in London, Amsterdam, New York, Berlin, and elsewhere, PennPraxis is helping to lead the cutting-edge thinking in this unusual and exciting field.

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In 2018, PennPraxis partnered with The Creative Footprint Project (CFP), a measurement and engagement project created by Mirik Milan, the former Night Mayor of Amsterdam, and Lutz Leichsenring of the Berlin Clubcommission.

 Rendering of walkway and bike path with tall grass landscape features along busy street

PennPraxis has worked with several clients and communities in the Lehigh Valley on a series of design projects, including the design of parks and civic streetscapes in the South Whitehall area of Allentown, and collaboration with 11 towns to imagine new futures for slate quarries as heritage parks and other placemaking and economic development projects.

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HUNTS POINT LIFELINES builds on assets and opportunities of regional importance, and a coalition of national leaders in community environmental action, business and labor, to create a flood protection park for a working waterfront that is a model of social, economic, and physical resilience in the poorest U.S. Congressional District.

Aerial view of Stamford future development

The South End Neighborhood Study (SENS) centered on a deep engagement process with residents and stakeholders to analyze the opportunities for growth, development, and heritage preservation in Stamford’s South End.

City scape and sky.

Photo by CC

In June of 2018, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning Vincent Reina received a University Research Foundation grant to study the impact and effectiveness of the Los Angeles Housing Choice Voucher program, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Southern California.

Cover of Civic Infrastructure
Artwork by Andee Mazzocco, Saygrid

PennPraxis published a white paper that calls on practitioners, advocates, funders, designers, and others involved in civic asset redevelopment to think about the unfolding of projects at multiple scales (site, system and policy), over a longer timeframe, through an “ecosystem” lens highlighting the importance of partnerships.

Row houses in Philadelphia

Professor Vincent Reina of PennDesign and Catherine Droser, Research Associate at PennPraxis, consulted on a project for Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), to develop a report on subsidized housing in Philadelphia.

Map of West Philadelphia

Map of Market Value of Owner-Occupied Homes, 2016

Managing Equitable Development in West Philadelphia was a project organized by representatives of three schools of the University of Pennsylvania.

Map of Gray's Ferry area.

Grays Ferry Avenue Study Area

In 2017, PennPraxis worked in conjunction with ULI Philadelphia and local stakeholders to determine opportunities for making Grays Ferry Avenue, which connects South and Southwest Philadelphia, a healthy corridor.

Visualization of potential project on the Delaware River.

PennPraxis facilitated a civic engagement process and design and infrastructure plan for 1,100 acres (445 hectares) of the Central Delaware riverfront.

Dilworth Plaza.
Dilworth Plaza. Credit: David Swift via Flickr

The constantly shifting concept of “public good” poses a challenge to designers, stewards and managers of public space, as well as to politicians, elected officials, community leaders and citizens.

North Brother Island
North Brother Island, Credit: Christopher Payne

North Brother Island is a valuable historic landscape and a fragile reserve of significant ecological value. This study, supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, proposes short-, medium- and long-term solutions to enabling public access to NBI while satisfying current and future conservation goals.

LOVE statue in Love park with fountain behind.


In June 2014, the City of Philadelphia sold LOVE Park’s underground garage to InterPark of Chicago, with immediate plans to improve the garage and make it handicapped accessible. This construction project presented the City with the opportunity to rethink the park on the top of the underground garage as a more pedestrian-friendly and seamless part of the surrounding streetscape.

Visualization of potential project in Fairmount Park.

In 2013, Penn Praxis was awarded funding to conduct a study to identify low-cost early actions and longer-term investments to improve connectivity to and through East and West Fairmount Park.

Map of section of Benjamin Franklin Parkway

With More Park, Less Way, PennPraxis worked with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to recommend a series of series of actions to shape the evolution of the Parkway into a 21st century public space.

3D model of the Lower Schuylkill area.

The Lower Schuylkill Master Plan was a collaborative effort to create a blueprint for high-quality sustainable redevelopment of the historically industrial corridor along the east and west banks of the Lower Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, PA.

Rudimentary map of Philadelphia including green spaces.

PennPraxis is working with the City of Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation to create an action plan to help the department meet the mandate for 500 acres of new parkland set forth in Greenworks Philadelphia.

Man talks to crowd participating in the Central Delaware riverfront planning process

PennPraxis facilitated a civic engagement process and design and infrastructure plan for 1,100 acres (445 hectares) of the Central Delaware riverfront.