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New York City becoming the big squeezy

In a city where the apartment vacancy rate is one percent, average rent hovers near $4,000 a month, and wait time for public housing is can be years long, it should come as no shock that a new report shows that more than one-in-12 dwellings in NYC are severely crowded.

Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office released a report earlier this week that revealed some startling numbers on how households in the city are more crowded than ever — skyrocketing 44.8 percent between 2005 and 2013.

The report, “Hidden Households,” used microdata taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, given between 2005 and 2013 to residents of both rental and privately-owned housing.

Scott Stringer
Scott Stringer

Stringer’s report defines “crowded” dwellings as units with more than one person per room, and “severely” crowded dwellings as units with more than 1.5 persons per room.

“Studies make it clear that crowding hurts the whole family,” said Stringer in a press release. “It makes it harder for kids to learn and puts the entire family at a greater risk of homelessness. This new report shows that the problem of crowding is stubbornly increasing, with nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers now living in a crowded or severely crowded home.  In response, the City must elevate crowding as a key housing priority to be addressed, while at the same time creating more affordable housing.”

One in 12 dwellings defined as crowded or severely crowded, translates to 272,533 households, or 1,476,746 residents.

The report broke down the findings from 2005 and 2013 by borough, showing that the Bronx experienced the biggest increase in severe crowding, jumping 74.2 percent, followed by Staten Island at 53.5 percent, Brooklyn with 49.1 percent, Manhattan with 25.5 percent, and Queens at 24.9 percent.

Over one million people in NYC are living in overcrowded homes, according to the new report.
Over one million people in NYC are living in overcrowded homes, according to the new report.

Households earning less than $22,000 a year made up 23.6 percent of crowded dwellings, and 24.9 percent of severely crowded dwellings, while households earning at least $100,000 a year made up 18.5 percent of crowded dwellings, and 16.4 percent of severely crowded dwellings. Studio apartments saw huge increases in crowding, with a 365 percent increase of units with three or more occupants between 2005 and 2013.

Wages not keeping up with rent increases is one of the possible reasons why crowding has increased so sharply, with real household incomes increasing by 2.7 percent between 2005 and 2013, while real median rents increased by 12.8 percent.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan to create 200,000 units in the next decade still has a long way to go. So far, the administration has created and preserved more than 20,000, with a large part of that coming from inclusionary housing programs like 421-a.

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