NEW YORK CITY — In a new report assessing threats to affordable housing citywide, advocates say one issue is getting even worse: overcrowding.
In the five boroughs, the rate of severely overcrowded households increased 18 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the latest available data from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, an advocacy group that studies affordable housing in New York.
In its 2017 report “How is Affordable Housing Threatened in Your Neighborhood?” the group charted 19 different factors deemed threats to affordable housing, including a neighborhood’s unemployment rate, percentage of rent-burdened households, the number of ongoing housing-related litigation and foreclosure rates.
The report found neighborhoods in the South Bronx — particularly the Highbridge and Concourse areas where indicators of gentrification continue to crop up — had the most threats to affordable housing.
But citywide, the factor that jumped out to the group was overcrowding, which advocates say is a precursor to more families moving to city shelters.
“What often happens is a low-income family get evicted for whatever reason, and it is often the case that they will spend a long period of time bouncing around and couch surfing with family and friends, doubled and tripled up, and searching for affordable housing,” said Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of ANHD.
“It’s only when all of their search options run out … that they end up in the shelter system,” he said.
Neighborhoods with the highest overcrowding in this year’s report include Elmhurst and Corona in Queens where 9 percent of households are severely overcrowded, Sunset Park in Brooklyn (8.7 percent) and the Fordham section of The Bronx (8 percent).
The city is already coping with a record-high number of homeless residents. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 62,000 New Yorkers are currently housed in the shelter system.
There are some places where overcrowding has eased a bit, but Dulchin says that could indicate late-stage displacement in areas where there has already been a major loss in affordable housing.
For example, in Crown Heights the percentage of severely crowded households dropped from 3.8 percent to 2.4 percent between 2014 and 2015, a decrease AHND attributes to an uptick in smaller, wealthier families displacing larger households.
“It tends to be the case that when the younger, more affluent and whiter population moves in, what they are often doing is displacing a family and themselves living with far more space,” he said.
The AHND report was completed in conjunction with the office of Councilmember Jumaane Williams, representative of Flatbush. In a statement, Williams said households where people are “doubling and tripling up to afford rent” are often forgotten in conversations about homelessness and affordable housing.
“This is an issue that spans all demographics,” he said. “My hope is that these figures help paint a true picture of what life is like for many people in this city, and help create income-targeted housing for all."
To see the full report, visit AHND’s website.