October 8, 2015
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has issued a report, Hidden Households, that shows that more than one in twelve NYC homes are crowded. The report opens,
New York City is in the midst of a protracted housing emergency. The City’s net estimated rental vacancy rate is the official statistic used to gauge a housing emergency, but there are other important variables that shed light on the state of our housing environment. Chief among these is crowding. Crowding is an established predictor of homelessness and a critical indicator of negative health, safety and economic household risk factors. The City’s “hidden households”, which contain nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers, are the topic of this report.
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Among the most notable crowding trends detailed in the report, we find that New York City’s overall crowding rate, which includes rental and ownership housing units, rose to 8.8 percent in 2013, compared to 7.6 percent in 2005 – a proportional increase of 15.8 percent. The City’s crowding rate is more than two and a half times the national crowding rate of 3.3 percent. The proportion of crowded dwelling units increased in all of the City’s boroughs except Staten Island during this time period with increases of 28.1 percent in Brooklyn, 12.5 percent in Queens and 12.3 percent in the Bronx.
Severe crowding, defined as housing units with more than 1.5 persons per room, also increased substantially, surging by 44.8 percent from 2005 to 2013, with increases seen in every borough. Most notably, the proportion of studio apartments with three or more occupants rose by over 365 percent from 2005 to 2013. All told, 3.33 percent of all dwelling units in NYC were classified as severely crowded in 2013, compared to a national severe crowding rate of 0.99 percent. (2)
The report only focuses on the problem of crowding, but it would be helpful to mention one of the main solutions to crowding — building more housing. To the extent that the NYC Comptroller can push down construction costs in NYC and support increased density in appropriate neighborhoods, he would help reduce crowding in the long run. Lots of people want to be in NYC. We need lots of apartments to house them.| Permalink