Health and Safety

Rapidly Deteriorating Housing in NYC

September 11, 2014
By Stephanie West

New York, NY – Despite years of economic prosperity and real estate appreciation, housing maintenance conditions have worsened in New York City potentially putting the health and safety of residents at risk. This according to a new analysis “How New York Lives” released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

“Housing conditions at NYCHA have become a laundry list of tenant frustration, from broken windows and peeling paint, to faulty heaters and scurrying rats,” Comptroller Stringer said. “New York City’s housing stock is among the most valuable in the world, but my report shows that there are great disparities in how New Yorkers live. Securing funding for NYCHA maintenance and repairs and vigorously enforcing the housing code must be a priority for this Administration.”

The Comptroller’s report analyzed data on rent-regulated apartments, market-rate rental apartments, owner-occupied housing and public housing apartments using data from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and U.S. Census Bureau’s triennial Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS) from 2002-2011.  The survey’s main purpose is to determine whether a housing emergency exists, but HVS also amasses microdata on various housing statistics, including the physical condition of the City’s housing stock as a whole.

The report notes that despite years of government and private-sector investment, significant enclaves of poor quality housing persist.  Nearly 30 percent of the City’s housing units have multiple maintenance deficiencies.

    •    99.8 percent of all housing types in New York City were in structurally decent condition as of 2011.  However, NYCHA developments experienced increased signs of deterioration.  In 2002, 60 percent of public housing apartments had at least one deficiency.  That figure jumped to 79 percent by 2011.

    •    The number of broken or missing windows in NYCHA housing surged by 945 percent from 2005 to 2011.  In 2011, broken or missing windows were observed in NYCHA buildings at three times the rate of the overall housing stock.

    •    Heating equipment breakdowns continue to trouble New Yorkers, with 20 percent of rent-stabilized tenants and 11 percent of market-rate tenants reporting heating system breakdowns in 2011. Heating system breakdowns in public housing increased by more than 72 percent from 2008 to 2011, with an estimated 43,000 reported breakdowns observed in that final year.

    •    The percentage of NYCHA residents reporting broken plaster and peeling paint nearly doubled from 2008 to 2011. Reported plaster and paint conditions rose slightly in market-rate and rent-stabilized housing. However, from 2005 to 2012, the number of children with dangerous blood levels resulting from lead paint dropped by 58 percent.

    •    Nearly one-third of public housing tenants reported water leaks in their apartments in 2011. The frequency of water leaks in rent-stabilized apartments was almost as high.

 •    In 2011, almost one-quarter of New York City households reported seeing evidence of rodents in their dwelling during the previous three months. Rodent sightings were most frequent in public housing, where they increased from 26 percent of NYCHA apartments in 2005 to 37 percent in 2011.

September 10, 2014

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