Join Rafael and Kirk as they unravel The Housing Problem and hunt for the solutions that will help build a stronger and more equitable New York City – starting with housing.

Season Two


In this episode of “The Housing Problem” podcast, hosts Rafael and Kirk tackle the ten key challenges faced by developers striving to build housing in the bustling landscape of New York City. From navigating the environmental review process to addressing tenant-friendly housing court systems, regulatory barriers, and aging infrastructure, they shed light on the complexities hindering housing development. Join them as they delve into controversial topics and explore potential solutions to pave the way for a more affordable and accessible housing market in the Big Apple.


Get ready to decode the secrets of housing data with Matthew Murphy, Executive Director of the NYU Furman Center, on “The Housing Problem” podcast. Join hosts Rafael Cestero and Kirk Goodrich as they embark on an engaging conversation filled with data-driven discoveries, paired with examples from their diverse sets of experiences. Matthew demystifies the complexities of housing data, revealing its potential for making a real impact on affordable housing initiatives for modern cities — from analyzing trends to uncovering actionable insights, this episode equips listeners with the knowledge to navigate the ever-evolving housing landscape.


 Join hosts Rafael Cestero and Kirk Goodrich as they embark on a lively conversation with Bea De La Torre, the indefatigable Chief Philanthropy Officer at Trinity Church Wall Street. Bea takes us on a whirlwind journey from Puerto Rico to the concrete jungle of NYC, fueled by a burning desire to tackle housing injustices. Together, they expose the flaws in the system, reveal the power of innovative solutions, and share some unexpected laughs along the way. Get ready to be inspired, entertained, and armed with practical ideas for fostering housing justice.


In this episode of “The Housing Problem,” Rafael and Kirk engage in a dynamic conversation with Richard Roberts, Principal and Chief Business Development Officer for Red Stone Equity Partners, LLC. Delve into the world of affordable housing and urban market investments with industry experts who have dedicated decades to finding sustainable and workable solutions for New Yorkers. Hear how Roberts oversaw the investment of more than $1 billion into the city’s neighborhoods, resulting in the creation of over 30,000 units of affordable housing, plus insights into his instrumental role as the founding Managing Director of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, where he led the establishment of the firm’s community development investment platform.


Join Rafael and Kirk as they dive into the complex world of affordable housing, exploring the challenges and opportunities that arise when trying to create not just a house, but a home. What does it actually take to turn four walls and a roof into a place where people can truly thrive?

From the economics of building and maintaining affordable housing to the social and cultural factors that make a neighborhood desirable, the duo unpacks the many layers that go into creating a truly livable community.


On this episode of The Housing Problem, Rafael and Kirk are joined by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, to discuss the past, present, and future of New York City housing. Together, the three provide a captivating insider look into complex housing issues for the Empire State, drawing on personal lessons from previous experiences living and working – in both the public and private sectors – throughout many different stops and posts representing New York City.


On this lively episode of The Housing Problem, Rafael and Kirk take a statewide scope of New York’s housing crisis with the top person in charge – RuthAnne Visnauskas – Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

They take a deep dive into the history of the housing issue in New York, and the impact of all types of housing initiatives statewide, both current and historical. Using their decades of collective experiences in leading New York through every type of public or private housing issue, they aptly discuss commonly found, as well as the unique issues, communities throughout the Empire State will have to deal with when considering housing initiatives for their publicly targeted growth marks mandated by Albany.


This week, Rafael and Kirk are joined in a thought-provoking conversation by Meredith Marshall, the co-founder and managing partner of BRP Companies, a New York-based development company committed to mixed-income projects throughout New York and nationally.

Skillfully using and extrapolating on examples from their respective pasts and learned professional experiences, the three expertly reflect on New York’s historical and still present-day affordable housing issues. Together they dive in on the socioeconomics of race, financial equity, and fair access to viable housing options as foundational issues throughout each historical public and private initiative, seen throughout their decades of collective experiences living and working in New York City.


Rafael and Kirk have a spirited conversation on critical and historical issues to New Yorkers, as seen through their own experiences and those from every generation, joined by CPC Senior Vice President Robert Riggs. Together, they dive deep using on the history and present issue of equitable home ownership opportunity in New York City, the socioeconomic principles of building family wealth, and how efforts to close the racial gap, especially in public housing initiatives, have been received and engaged with throughout the boroughs of the City in its diverse and complex history.

S2E3. NYC’s Top Housing Experts Share Learned Experiences.

In this thought-provoking episode featuring Holly Leicht – Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development & Planning at Empire State Development – Rafael, Kirk, and Holly extrapolate the core foundational issues plaguing accessible and sustainable affordable housing for decades. Offering expert insights from their decades of learned professional experience, this spirited conversation is both entertaining and informative. Rafael and Kirk, skillfully utilize guest Holly Leicht to break down the paradoxes and, ultimately, the necessary future solutions that define The Housing Problem.

S2E2. An Organized Approach to Affordable Housing.

Rafael and Kirk are joined by Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. Rafael, Kirk, and Gary also take a look at the future of sustainable and affordable housing, how it plays into the forthcoming plans of New York and New York City, what legislation can be put into place by elected leaders to codify the administration’s goals, and what obstacles lay in the way.

Gary LaBarbera represents 15 local building trades councils, 12 district councils, state associations, and 135 local unions, representing more than 200,000 tradespeople across the entire state. Throughout this compelling insider conversation, we hear about Gary’s fascinating professional experiences – from dealing with Superstorm Sandy to leading a frontline organization, critical to the success and sustained growth of New York State, throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic.

S2E1. The Public Answer to the Housing Problem.

Rafael and Kirk return for another captivating and informative season of “The Housing Problem.” For the first episode of Season Two, they sit down with the Chief Housing Officer for the City of New York, Jessica Katz, to hear directly from the city how they are managing these problems day-to-day in the present, while concurrently planning for a more equitable and affordable opportunity for all in New York. Rafael, Kirk, and Jessica dive deep into how developers, community leaders, elected officials, and housing advocates engage with the complexities of this multi-fold issue and how they plan for the ever-changing future landscape of New York City.

Season One

S1E6. The politics of housing and where we go from here.

Like with everything in life, perceptions matter, and community perceptions of affordable housing are no different. In this final episode of the mini-series, Rafael and Kirk get into how developers, advocates, elected officials, and communities talk about, think about, and plan for the building of new housing with up-and-coming affordable housing leader Councilmember Pierina Sanchez. Is it really the last episode? Find out!

S1E5. Humanity First. Addressing the Homelessness Crisis.

Rafael and Kirk look at the growing number of homeless New Yorkers and try to square our homeless crisis with the reality that New York does more than any other city to help those living on the street. Muzzy Rosenblatt of BRC talks about his dedicated team of social service professionals who walk into the subway cars that most of us walk out of.

S1E4. The Role Housing Plays in the Racial Wealth Gap.

Rafael and Kirk sit down with Restoration Plaza’s Colvin Grannum to talk about how Black and brown communities have been the most vulnerable to the consequences of The Housing Problem. Building generational wealth, race-conscious public policy, and bringing holistic thinking to how and where we build housing are just some of the topics this thought-provoking conversation covers.

S1E3. Mission Possible. Saving Public Housing.

Despite 1 in 15 New Yorkers calling public housing home, the nation’s largest affordable housing infrastructure has faced decades of deferred maintenance and disinvestment. Congressman Torres dishes with Rafael and Kirk about ways to recoup funding for the city’s beleaguered housing authority and talks about the obstacles standing in the way.

S1E2. But Really, What Actually is Gentrification?

The term gentrification is thrown around a lot, but do we really even know what it means? Rafael and Kirk break it down with Yvonne Stennett, a longtime community development advocate in Washington Heights, who has seen firsthand the upside and downside of gentrification.

S1E1. Introduction to the Housing Problem.

Rafael and Kirk look at how we got here, where the city’s made improvements, and the seemingly never-ending challenges that New York City’s housing sector is up against. With former New York City Housing Development Corporation President Marc Jahr, Rafael and Kirk break down the paradoxes that define The Housing Problem.

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