Sarah

Housing Research by Sarah Cunningham

Urban researcher, Bushwick resident and guest blogger, Sarah Cunnigham shares her study of the housing crisis and the rise of gentrification in Bushwick.  She recently completed her Master’s thesis in the Graduate Program for International Affairs at The New School entitled, “NOT GIVING IN: GENTRIFICATION AND DISLOCATION IN THE GLOBAL CITY” and will be blogging about pressing housing issues based on this investigation.  She is a volunteer researcher with CAPITAL B and will be assisting with our collaboration with Make the Road NY’s Youth Power investigation of unsold condos.

Did you know?

The neighborhood of Bushwick had the third highest rate of housing foreclosures in the city of New York in 2007 at 57.8% per 1,000 1-4 family properties?
(Source: State of New York’s Housing & Neighborhoods 2008, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University)

Did you know?
That Bushwick continues to have the highest number of serious housing code violations (per 1,000 rental units) out of all the neighborhoods in the city of New York, year after year?  In 2007, there were 193.2 serious housing code violations per 1,000 rental units within the Bushwick neighborhood.
(Source: State of New York’s Housing & Neighborhoods 2008, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University)

Did you know?
The median age of housing stock in Bushwick is 76 years old?  Compared with other New York City neighborhoods, Bushwick ranks 19th on this housing indicator.
(Source: State of New York’s Housing & Neighborhoods 2008, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University)

Did you know?
That even though the homeownership rate in Bushwick stands at only 18.7%, the neighborhood ranked fourth in the city for high cost home purchase loans in 2007?
(Source: State of New York’s Housing & Neighborhoods 2008, Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University)

Did you know?
That there are a wide range of housing problems in Bushwick that signal a neighborhood housing crisis?  These include a scarcity of affordable housing, rising rents, aging housing stock, serious housing code violations, overcrowding, harassment, displacement, eviction, and extensive housing foreclosures.

Did you know?
In 2001, Bushwick residents made 582 total housing code complaints per 1,000 rental units, 184.7 per 1,000 of which were serious violations- a rate of 450% more complaints than the New York City average.
(Source: “This Side of Poverty: Bushwick’s Housing Crisis,” A report by Make the Road by Walking, Inc., (December 2003)

Bushwick Residents Speak Out:

“this used to be… you could’ve definitely though that this was like a Washington heights… it’s considered like a Spanish neighborhood before… this is nothing like that no more”
→ Do you agree?

Bushwick Residents Speak Out:
The neighborhood of Bushwick is “not as bad as what it used to be, it’s getting better.”
→ Do you agree? How has Bushwick changed over the years?

Tenant Organizers Speak Out:
“There’s a real competition for the remaining affordable apartments” in the neighborhood and we’re, “just trying to make sure that tenants… are not forced out of their buildings.”

Tenant Organizers Speak Out:
One tenant organizer congratulated the hard work of the community saying, “the fact that we still have as many people in rent-stabilized housing is due to the work of, you know, countless, countless people trying to put energy into preserving existing tenants.”
→ Have you helped to preserve affordable housing in Bushwick?

Housing crisis is visually evident throughout much of Bushwick, Brooklyn.  A walk through the neighborhood reveals boarded-up windows on abandoned residential buildings heavily marked with graffiti; foreclosure signs dot the landscape.  Simultaneously, new condominiums are being constructed, often extravagantly out of place, while signs of gentrification are increasingly present, marked by coffeehouses and organic grocery stores, gallery spaces and wine shops, old warehouses converted into artist lofts.  Both the processes of abandonment and disrepair, coupled with condominium construction and gentrification signal housing crisis in Bushwick; in a neighborhood with little affordable housing and widespread negligence, gentrification has contributed to rising rents, intensified harassment, and for many long-time, low-income residents, displacement from their homes and community.

Years of disinvestment and decay within urban neighborhoods often leads to conditions ripe for urban renewal; rehabilitation and inflows of public or private investment, in part due to real-estate speculation in a tight housing market.  In other words, the perception that property values in a neighborhood are highly under-valued and investment is likely to bring about high profits.  As a Tenant Organizer in the Bushwick community pointed out:

“…we’re in an area that is rapidly being gentrified in spite of the total economic crisis in the country, there’s money to be made here in Bushwick… part of that is because as the rents go up in Manhattan and people lose their positions and so forth, they’re seeking to find affordable housing, and this is one of the neighborhoods where there still exists such a thing.”

So, what does housing crisis look like in Bushwick?

Here are a few examples which demonstrate housing in disrepair, often abandoned, as well as establishments which signal gentrification:

> Live in the Bushwick neighborhood?

> What is your perspective on the housing crisis?

> Have any additional images to add that demonstrate housing crisis within the Bushwick community? – Please send them our way!