A new report released Monday that more than 1.4 million New Yorkers live in overcrowded homes surprised few housing observers.
The report by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer found 272,533 homes across the five boroughs were overcrowded by 2013, increasing by almost 16 percent since 2005.
“It’s not surprising but it is tragic,” said Ava Farkas, executive director of advocacy group the Metropolitan Council on Housing.
“There’s a real crisis of affordability, and that’s what the report indicates,” Farkas told Metro. “People are living in overcrowded apartments because they can’t afford the rent.”
Overall, most of the overcrowded homes — about 92 percent — were homes with family relationships, not roommates.
Almost a quarter of crowded homes reported earning less than $22,000 a year per household.
At the same time, more than 81 percent of crowded dwellings, the comptroller’s office found, housed at least one person under the age of 18.
Geographically, the report saw the largest jump in crowded dwellings in Brooklyn, with the proportion of crowded apartments and homes increasing by 28 percent.
Every other borough saw its own increase in crowded homes of between 10 to 12 percent, but for Staten Island, where homes actually got less crowded by some 8.6 percent.
That’s not to say that Staten Islanders are safe from the worst overcrowding, though. While the Bronx had the most cases of severe overcrowding with 74 percent, Staten Island came in second with almost 54 percent.
Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who chairs the council’s housing and buildings committee said the report repeats what many already know.
“We continue to see the pressure that housing takes in New York City,” Williams said. “It’s been like that since I was a tenant organizer. It mirrors what we saw then but even worse.”
Williams added that City Hall’s focus on creating affordable housing was certainly one part of a larger, long-term solution to keep New York City affordable for those who feel forced to move into apartments with loved ones.
“We have to continue to work on improving rent regulation,” Williams said. “If we can’t address that we might as well be pouring water in a bucket with a hole in it.”
In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on a controversial package to extend rent regulation in the city that critics argued would cost the city almost 100,000 units of affordable housing.
Cuomo defended the package as “the best rent reform package in history.”
“But Albany failed tenants this past spring by continuing to weaken the protections that we had,” the Met Council’s Farkas said. “They could pass stronger rent laws, and they can do that at any time.”