Brooklyn Boro

Report: As homelessness increases, Brooklyn stands to lose thousands of units of affordable housing

Levin’s district could lose 18 percent of its affordable housing; Gentile’s more than half

April 20, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A new poll found that a majority of Brooklynites support homeless shelters opening in their neighborhoods. AP Photo/Seth Wenig.
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The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH) has released a report analyzing trends of homelessness in New York City, with snapshots of each of the 51 City Council districts.

The latest figures show a wide disparity among Brooklyn’s districts in terms of the number of homeless children attending public schools, the number of homeless shelters, and resources available for the poor. But almost all Brooklyn neighborhoods stand to lose affordable housing — especially areas that are currently affluent or on the upswing, such as Downtown Brooklyn and Bay Ridge.

Overall, the number of families entering the NYC shelter system continues to grow — increasing by 33 percent between 2012 and 2015. Sadly, roughly 25,000 children call a city shelter their home.

One area in Brooklyn with a high number of family shelter units is District 37 (Cypress Hills, Highland Park, represented by Councilmember Rafael Espinal). The area is home to five Tier II shelters and two hotel shelters, representing 23 percent of Brooklyn’s family shelter units. In this district, 11 percent of school children have experienced homelessness during the last five years.

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Another district with a large number of shelters is District 36 (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Weeksville, represented by Councilmember Robert Cornegy). There are 21 family shelters here, which represents 24 percent of Brooklyn shelters. Roughly 15 percent of students in the area have experienced homelessness in the past five years.

In contrast, several Brooklyn districts have no family shelters at all. This includes District 33 (Downtown Brooklyn, Greenpoint, Williamsburg), represented by Councilmember Stephen Levin.

While relatively affluent (five percent of students have experienced homelessness over the past five years), District 33 is the Brooklyn district at risk of losing the most affordable units due to affordability clauses that are set to expire in the next five years. Currently, the area is home to almost 26,000 affordable units. According to ICPH’s report, 4,621 of these — 18 percent — could be lost by 2022.

In upscale District 43 (Councilmember Vincent Gentile: Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights), three percent of the kids have experienced homelessness over the past five years. There are no family shelters in the district. Out of 2,671 affordable units, however, 1,846 — or 69 percent — are expected to disappear by 2022.

Other highlights:

In District 39 (Councilmember Brad Lander: Gowanus, Park Slope) more than 1,100 students (four percent) have experienced homelessness over the last five years, yet there are no family shelters in the district. Out of 5,122 remaining affordable units, 1,165 could be lost between now and 2022.

In District 35 (Councilmember Laurie Cumbo: Crown Heights, Fort Greene), seven percent of school kids are or have recently been homeless. Out of 17,611 affordable units, 2,138 are expected to disappear by 2022.

After Cornell Realty withdrew a ULURP application for two non-affordable development projects in Crown Heights on Wednesday, Cumbo called it a victory, saying in a statement, “Collectively, we stood firm that large-scale market rate housing does not represent our community’s need for real affordable, low-income housing.”

Statistics like this are of ultimate importance to public policy, and several members of the City Council want to assure they don’t disappear.

Councilmember Espinal is sponsoring a bill requiring the Department of Homeless Services to conduct quarterly counts of all unsheltered homeless persons in public areas, such as vestibules and mass transit, and post the results on its website. He wants to codify into law what the city is already doing under HOMESTAT, he said, so that a federal administration unfriendly to such statistics will be unable to bury them.

“Because we’ve seen in the federal level that new administrations can come in and pretty much dismantle any work that previous administrations have been doing,” he said at a City Council meeting on Thursday.

See the full report at

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