Where New York City Renters Are Plagued by Unsafe Living Conditions

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May 10, 2018

New analysis and interactive map from Localize.city illustrates that New Yorkers in neighborhoods with a median income below $30,000 are exposed to significantly more violations

Localize.city found that nearly 33 percent of housing code violations were in the Bronx, 22.5 percent were in Central and Eastern Brooklyn, and 14.5 percent were in Northern Manhattan  

Darlene Wallace’s 25-unit walk-up at 1090 University Ave., in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, has heat and hot water problems, roach infestations and moldy bathrooms. It is also overrun by mice. One frigid February morning last year, Wallace’s 12-year-old daughter was bitten by a mouse that had burrowed in her coat sleeve.

Localize.city found that renters in the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods like Highbridge are exposed to dramatically higher rates of dangerous housing conditions jeopardizing their health and quality of life.

Localize.city, an AI-powered website, monitors billions of data points in real-time, to help New Yorkers get the most complete understanding of what life will be like at every address, from maintenance issues and housing violations to current and future construction, community and safety.

This report builds upon Localize.city’s machine-learning technology, which exposes housing violations at every New York City building. To find out if your building has violations, search your address: www.localize.city. Once there, you can sign up to receive updates on a variety of topics tailored to your address.

Wallace’s building had more than 142 open housing violations (or 5.7 per unit), according to a search of the address on Localize.city.  Open violations included extremely hazardous conditions, such as water leaks reported months ago that were supposed to be corrected immediately.

Low-Income Neighborhoods Have Significantly Higher Housing Violation Rates

Localize.city found substantial differences in the housing violations rates depending on neighborhood median income for renter households.

Apartments in very low-income neighborhoods (where the median income is below $30,000 a year) were eight times more likely to have housing violations than those in high-income neighborhoods (where the median income is above $80,000 per year). The violation rate in very low-income neighborhoods was double that of neighborhoods where the median income falls between $40,000 to $50,000 a year.

Bronx Has Most Housing Violations

Overall, roughly 33 percent of open housing code violations issued over the past five years were in the Bronx, according to the Localize.city analysis. Roughly 22.5 percent of the city’s total violations were in Central and Eastern Brooklyn, and 14.5 percent were in Northern Manhattan.

Borough Breakdown of Violations

The Bronx: The small neighborhood of Tremont had the city’s highest rate of housing violations with 2.6 per renting household; the Concourse area had the highest share of the city’s total violations, with about 4 percent.

Manhattan: West Harlem had Manhattan’s highest levels with 2.4 violations per renting household (which was the No. 2 rate in the city); Washington Heights had the largest share of violations, with 4.2 percent of the city’s total.

Brooklyn: Flatbush had Brooklyn’s highest violation rate with about 2 per renting household; Crown Heights had the largest share, with 4.5 percent of the city’s total violations.

Queens: Housing violation rates tended to be lower in Queens across the board. South Jamaica led the borough, with just under one violation per renting household. The Rockaways had the borough’s biggest share of the city’s violations with 1 percent.

Staten Island: The borough’s rate was low, with about 0.66 violations per renting household. It had about 1.5 percent of the city’s total violations.

High-Income Areas See Significantly Lower Violation Rates

More affluent neighborhoods — where the median income was $80,000 or more — were not completely free of violations. Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights led these higher income neighborhoods with roughly one violation per two renting households. But that only represented 0.14 percent of the city’s total violations. The Upper West Side, which also had a low rate, had the largest violation share of the more affluent neighborhoods, with 1.5 percent of the city’s total.

Stay Updated on Building Conditions

To find out if a building has housing violations, simply search the address at www.Localize.city. The site shows what violations, open and closed, have been issued at every building, broken down by unit. Sign up for updates about your building and be notified if your building has violations issued, among many other topics.



This Localize.city analysis used data from the Housing Maintenance Code Violations dataset, between 2013 and 2017 for violations that were not dismissed. The analysis categorizes these violations, looking at the more meaningful categories concerning actual housing conditions, and excluding registration and post notices issues. The analysis aims to look at the rate of housing code violations at the neighborhood level and compare between the different New York neighborhoods in relation to the median annual renting household income in each neighborhood.

To that end, the violations dataset is combined with other datasets that provide essential complementary information. Since the violation filing mechanism relates to renting households rather than the entire household population, the violations rate in each neighborhood is normalized by the aggregated number of renting households as per the 2011-2015 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates.

The neighborhood renting household counts are refined to exclude NYCHA dwelling units ( a total of 175,817 as of Jan. 2016). NYCHA developments are excluded because complaints in public housing are not filed with the city’s 311 service, but with the City’s Housing Authority, which is responsible to fix them. Data from the NYCHA development map is therefore used to deduct the NYCHA unit counts from the total renting household population in each neighborhood.

The neighborhoods are divided into five income bins. The analysis looks at the neighborhoods in each bin, the rate of violations in that bin and the outlier neighborhoods in each bin where violations are either significantly abundant or rare in relation to their respective income bin.


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