Project Urbanista, LLC is an urban planning practice specializing in affordable housing development and community-engaged planning. We are committed to creating equitable and inclusive spaces and engaging with the public on planning for the built environment. We are a collaborative firm and work with selected professionals in architecture, design, housing finance and community organizing depending on the needs of the project. Our bilingual (English/Spanish) team is experienced planning with low-income, homeless, new immigrant and other hard to reach communities.
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. --Socrates
Julie Behrens, Founder + Director
Julie is an urban planner, advocate and self-styled urban anthropologist. Her career reflects her life-long passion for exploring new people and places, and learning what makes them tick. Her work is driven by a strong sense of social justice and the belief that an Inclusive City is the reflection of a just society in which everyone has an opportunity to participate. An avid wanderer, Julie has traveled in 5 continents and most of the 50 states doing everything from teaching English in Korea, to homeless outreach on the streets of Washington, DC, to municipal development in rural Central America. Julie brings more than 15 years of domestic and international experience in the field of urban development. Most recently she worked with the American Red Cross in Haiti, developing a participatory needs assessment and rebuilding strategy for a Port-au-Prince neighborhood destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 2010.
Prior to founding Project Urbanista, Julie worked for six years in the Division of Special Needs Housing at the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) where she developed permanent supportive housing for homeless, disabled, elderly and other vulnerable New Yorkers. Julie’s past professional experience includes community organizing, non-profit administration and many less glamorous jobs that paid the bills along the way.
Julie is an adjunct professor of Urban Planning at Columbia where she teaches courses on urban migration, and community development finance. She served as Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras from 2004-2006 and was a Coro Fellow in the 2008 Immigrant Civic Leadership Program (ICLP). She holds an M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University in New York and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Dayton in Ohio.
Oscar Garcia, Project Manager
Oscar Garcia is the lead project manager on all of Project Urbanista's mapping and spatial analysis work, including geo-coded data collection, cleaning and visual map design. His expertise using ArcGIS includes US Census data, NYC Pluto and other large public datasets. Oscar also supports all community engagement projects, including outreach, logistics and workshop facilitation. Oscar holds a BS in Architectural Technology from CityTech, CUNY New York City College of Technology.
Depending on the needs of your project, we assemble and lead a team of professionals with diverse expertise ranging from architecture and urban design to real estate analysis and community organizing. The following is a select list of our collaborators.