The phrase “affordable housing” seems plain enough, but it doesn’t always mean what people think it does. It actually has a technical definition, which can determine what gets built and who gets to live there. The Affordable Housing Toolkit helps communities answer the all-important question, “Affordable to whom?”

The kit is an interactive workshop tool with activities that break down affordable housing policy into easy-to-understand visuals. A felt chart lets communities look at income demographics, rents, and proposed developments in their neighborhoods. A guidebook explains New York’s affordable housing programs and who is eligible to use them, and provides step-by-step instructions on how to run a workshop. The online map lets you instantly chart the income demographics of any NYC neighborhood and print it out to share with elected officials or other audiences.

CUP designed the toolkit in collaboration with designer Glen Cummings of MTWTF and an advisory group of dozens of community organizations, advocacy groups, and policy experts to meet the specific needs they faced in educating their constituents on neighborhood development issues.

Over 45 organizations throughout New York City have purchased toolkits and conducted workshops for thousands of participants already. Workshops regularly take place at community meetings, classrooms, staff trainings for organizers, and many other locations.

Order your toolkit today, or contact CUP to request a workshop for your organization.

A Spanish version of the guidebook was launched in 2009. You can get your Spanish copy here.

We launched the Chicago edition of the guidebook in 2015. You can order it here.

To learn more about the toolkit and get an introduction to affordable housing, watch this fun animation!

What People Are Saying…

“The Affordable Housing Toolkit bridges the gap between the people in power and the people on the ground by helping them understand these terms like “Section 8.” These issues that could be confusing to anyone – let alone those who are living inside of them and are burdened by all sorts of other issues in their lives."
– Doreen Ornelas, Social worker

“I’ve been reading your What Is Affordable Housing? and I think I’ve learned more in an hour about US affordable housing than in years of trying to read academic papers.”
– Peter Phibbs, Urban Research Centre

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the Nathan Cummings Foundation; public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; the Independence Community Foundation; and the Park Slope Civic Council.

Special Thanks

Mark Torrey, Sam Holleran, Janine Soper, Karen Miller, Carlos Martinez, Adolfo Mogilevich, Mariana Mogilevich, Maria Paula Lorgia, Amélie Bertholet, Maria Carrizosa, Yuhka Miura, Oscar Nunez, Jeff Kasper, Nick Legowski


  • CUP
  • Developed by
  • Rosten Woo, John Mangin, Margot Walker
  • Produced by
  • Rosten Woo, John Mangin, Christine Gaspar, Valeria Mogilevich, Mark Torrey, Jonathan Palmer-Hoffman
    • MTWTF
    • Booklet and chart design
    • Glen Cummings, Aliza Dzik, Dylan Fracaretta, Joshua Hearn
    • Anthony Hamboussi
    • Photography
    • Sha Hwang, Zach Watson, William Wang
    • Web application
    • With assistance from Glen Cummings and Inbar Kishoni

      • Office of Jeff
      • Animation
      • Jeff Lai


      Where Will NYC’s 80,000 New Apartments Go?
      • Epoch Times
      • September 13, 2014

      As a starting point, many Council members, including Reynoso, Levin, and Carlos Menchaca, are using kits that explain zoning and affordable housing created by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP).  

      CUP Tools Up
      • Architect’s Newspaper
      • March 02, 2010

      CUP helps us deconstruct our environment in order to advocate for social justice”

      Unraveling the Mystery of Affordable Housing
      • The New York Times
      • January 08, 2010

      “It really helped people break past the jargon and the acronyms and help people understand what affordable housing is.” 

      There’s an App for That
      • Colorlines
      • December 07, 2009

      The Toolkit translates abstract concepts and language into straightforward activities and physical objects that will hopefully engage folks who otherwise wouldn’t participate.