Hilary Botein: Making Strides for Affordable Housing

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Hilary Botein

Affordable housing has always been a hot button topic among the middle class in New York City, especially, as many of those people are priced out of the communities that were built for them in the first place.
As a housing policy expert who teaches in the School of Public Affairs, Hilary Botein knows a lot about this topic. In the two-and-a-half years that she’s been at Baruch as an assistant professor, Botein has taught courses on the public regulation of land use, policy analysis, non-profit housing development, and a capstone course for the National Urban Fellows.

"When I first got interested in housing 20 years ago," Botein says, "it was a male-dominated field." Now her gender has established a greater presence among developers and policy experts.

Prior to joining Baruch, Botein worked at mostly non-profit entities that addressed housing in one form or another: South Brooklyn Legal Services, the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, the Center for Urban Community Services, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and a few private firms. While working as a legal services lawyer, one of her projects focused on Red Hook, Brooklyn: There were no banks there, she noted. "We did a lot of organizing and pressuring and got Independence Bank to open a branch. It was a poor neighborhood that had lots of public housing."

Years later, at her consulting company, Shubert Botein Policy Associates, Botein and a colleague supported a coalition that brought together for-profit and non-profit housing developers to pressure the city and state into creating affordable housing. The coalition’s efforts helped in creating a housing plan that would result in 165,000 affordable units spread out over the city’s five boroughs. "That’s something that I felt was a big deal," she says.

Although Botein usually teaches two courses per semester, this academic year she is only teaching one, an online capstone class about policy analysis to the National Urban Fellow graduates students. The reason for her cutback is pretty simple; she’s busy taking care of her son, who was born last May.

With a PhD in urban planning, a law degree, and a bachelor of arts in English, all earned at top universities, it would seem likely that this highly educated person would easily be able to take on any challenge that comes her way. But things can quickly turn upside down once a baby enters the picture. "It’s a good lesson, to be totally flummoxed about when to put my baby to bed!"

With time management being so important for her these days, Botein is slowly but surely reincorporating some of her favorite extra-curricular activities back into her life. "The two main things I do [in my free time] are run and cook," she says. An accomplished marathoner, Botein has twice conquered the New York City event, clocking in at 3.30 and 3.23. "I find it really relaxing," she says.

Next fall, Botein will resume teaching two courses per semester. From a professional standpoint, she says, "What I feel proudest and happiest [about] is that I’ve always had work that I find fun and engaging and rewarding."

Professor Botein was recently featured in the New York Times' Home & Garden section. Click here to read the article.