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Bronxites at Highest Risk of Housing Displacement in NYC, Report Says

By Eddie Small | March 7, 2017 9:03am
 Areas of The Bronx shaded in orange are at risk of displacement, according to the RPA.
Areas of The Bronx shaded in orange are at risk of displacement, according to the RPA.
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Regional Plan Association

THE BRONX — Bronxites are more in danger of being displaced than residents of any other borough, according to a new report from the Regional Plan Association.

The report, entitled "Pushed Out: Housing Displacement in an Unaffordable Region," examines the impact of rising housing costs on the New York City metro area and found that households in 71 percent of census tracts in The Bronx are in danger of being pushed out.

The next highest borough was Brooklyn at 55 percent, followed by Manhattan and Queens at 31 percent each and Staten Island at 15 percent.

The association identified neighborhoods that were at risk by looking at factors including the economic vulnerability of residents and the recent type of market activity in the area.

Neighborhoods in The Bronx that are at risk range from Port Morris to Norwood, while most of the areas that are still considered secure are concentrated on the eastern and western edges of the borough, such as Riverdale and Clason Point, according to the RPA.

The Bronx also had the city's highest percentage of rent-burdened households — where the rent costs more than 30 percent of household income — at 56 percent. The Bronx also has 36 percent of households earning less than $25,000 — which helps explain why it is so much more vulnerable to displacement than the other boroughs, according to RPA New York Director Pierina Sanchez.

"A lot of The Bronx is where lower income people in the city are still going to be able to remain in the city," she said.

Population growth in The Bronx in recent years has been almost exclusively among people making less than $50,000 annually, although this could be changing soon given the borough's "large amount of walkable, job-accessible neighborhoods," the report says.

Overall, the report found that the majority of low- and moderate-income residents throughout New York still live in pedestrian friendly neighborhoods with easy access to jobs, but they are being replaced by wealthier populations, and many will have "little recourse against being pushed out" should housing costs continue to rise.

The report makes multiple suggestions for how to help limit such displacement, including strengthening local laws to limit rent increases, using empty government-owned land for permanent low-income housing and increasing funding for programs to help low-income people pay their rent.

Gentrification and displacement have been contentious issues in The Bronx for years, with locals pointing to events ranging from new developments to the Jerome Avenue rezoning to a mention in the New York Times' travel section as signs that they are occurring.

Sanchez maintained that The Bronx needs more affordable housing but also stressed that this was not an issue unique to the borough. Rather, it is something that is important to focus on throughout the New York metro area.

"We’re under-producing housing at a rate of 50 percent across the region," she said. "This is affordable, market rate, just the whole universe of housing, we’re under-producing. So there’s an acute need for affordable housing."