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March 7, 2016
We recently examined on our blog the ways in which CCC’s Keeping Track data help to illustrate the critical need for action at all levels of government to support families facing housing instability and homelessness in New York City. In this new post, we explore the neighborhood-level data in two community districts – University Heights in the Bronx and East New York in Brooklyn – to better understand the significant impact that economic conditions have had on housing stability for families in these high need areas over the last decade.
According to CCC’s Community Risk Rankings, the Bronx neighborhood of University Heights is the community district with the highest risk for housing instability. Risk in housing instability is based on three key indicators: rental overcrowding, rent burden, and the rate of families entering homeless shelters. In University Heights, over 1 in 6 rental homes is overcrowded, compared to 1 in 10 citywide. In addition, more than 43% of households are rent burdened, or spending more than 50% of their income on rent. Families in University Heights are entering homeless shelters at a rate of 5.3 for every 1000 households, which is 60% higher than the citywide rate of 3.3.
A deeper look at the Keeping Track data in this community demonstrate that economic conditions have placed a strain on housing stability. In 2014, the median household income for University Heights families with children was less than $20,000, which was 60% lower than the citywide median income for families with children. At $20,000 a year, a family with children would only have to spend $10,000 annually — or $833 monthly — to be considered rent burdened. However, the median rent in University Heights in 2014 was $946, more than $100 over that threshold. Under these conditions it is easy to see how families could be overcrowding apartments to reduce costs, or are otherwise forced to turn to the shelter system for relief.
A look at median monthly rent and median income data over time show that the challenges for households in University Heights were aggravated by the recession.
The chart to the left (click to zoom in) illustrates the percent change in median monthly rent and median income for University Heights from 2005 to 2014. Here you can see that the median monthly rent has increased 14.3%, from $828 in 2005 to $946 in 2014. You can also see how, conversely, in the chart below, median income for all households in University Heights decreased by 12%, from $23,713 in 2005 to $20,872 in 2014. The impact of the recession is clearly illustrated by the decrease in median household income from $29,743 in 2008 to $20,872 in 2014, which is a decrease of close to $9,000 (nearly 30%).
Another community, East New York in Brooklyn, has been the focus of media attention recently because of a rezoning plan meant to expand affordable housing for middle income households. The public dialogue around the City’s plans in East New York illustrate the complexities of these efforts, as well as the critical importance of ensuring that plans include adequate housing options for existing low income residents in the community, who may be pushed out by the influx of middle income earners into the community.
The data in Keeping Track Online on East New York validates these concerns. The Risk Ranking housing profile for East New York reveals that the rate of families entering homeless shelters is 5.8, 75% higher than the citywide rate of 3.3. In addition, in East New York 1 in 6 renter households is overcrowded and 26.8% are rent burdened, compared to Brooklyn where 1 in 8 renter households is overcrowded and 29.2% are rent burdened. Furthermore, median income for families with children is $32,000 and data suggests that low cost housing options for these families are shrinking.
CCC analyzed the monthly rent data in this community district over the past decade to better understand the change in the affordability of housing in East New York over time. The chart below illustrates how in 2005, over 60% of renter households in East New York had a monthly rent of less than $1,000. By 2014 the share of renters with monthly rents of less than $1,000 had decreased to 46.5%. Not surprisingly, during the same time period the share of renter households with a monthly rent of $1,000 or more increased from 37.9% to 53.5%.
The data make clear that actions must be taken to support families that are struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the great recession. Read our previous blog for efforts underway at the city, state and federal level, as well as CCC’s advocacy priorities in this area.