A new interactive map tracking eviction rates across the five boroughs paints a stark portrait of the city’s housing crisis.
The data visualizations, created by Acting Public Advocate and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office, pulls data from the City’s Department of Investigations to pinpoint residential evictions across the five boroughs as a tool to guide advocates and policy makers conversation on how to reduce the city's eviction rate.
“As the movement to protect tenants in our City and across New York State gathers momentum, it is my hope that this map will be an invaluable tool in the arsenal used by policymakers, tenants, and advocates to continue and eventually win this fight in the five boroughs and in Albany,” Johnson told Curbed in a statement.
The map can be studied by ZIP code, community board, and City Council districts, allowing organizers to tailor their advocacy to areas with high eviction rates. State Senate and Assembly districts can also be overlaid for rent reform advocacy on the state level, according to the council’s legislative and data team.
A secondary map also allows users to sift through specific property details, including the number of stabilized units, a given building’s subsidies, and violations issued by the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation.
“We are facing an affordability crisis and the only way we will be able to craft policies to fix it is if we truly understand the scope of the problem and do everything we can to provide tenants with the tools and resources they need to stay in their homes,” Johnson added.
Tenants in 19,970 apartments were evicted from their homes in 2018—that’s down from 21,074 evictions in 2017 and 22,089 in 2016. (The figures mapped in the new tool are slightly lower after the council’s data team adjusted for missing information.) The Bronx was the borough with the most evictions last year—with a staggering 1 per 79 units—followed by Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the map shows.
More than 230,000 eviction petitions were filed by building owners in 2017, but of those only 9 percent—or just over 20,800 evictions— were actually executed by the City Marshal. The city credits that gap and part of its eviction rate decline to the Right to Counsel law, which kicked off in 2017, and has provided free lawyers for tenants in 15 ZIP Codes throughout the city—three in each borough.
The law, which is gradually rolling out, has already provided nearly a quarter million New Yorkers with legal counsel or guidance on housing issues. Once it’s fully implemented in 2022, it will serve 400,000 tenants at a cost of $155 million annually by that time, according to the de Blasio administration.
“The substantial reduction in residential evictions by marshals is a testament to the critical difference that providing counsel makes in protecting tenants from evictions from their homes and neighborhoods,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said in a statement. “As we implement this important first-in-the nation initiative, we will continue leveling the playing field for tenants in need across the five boroughs.”
Organizers say many eviction cases are abuses of power by landlords who drag tenants to court to seize their lucrative apartments. Rent-regulated renters especially are prone to harassment by construction, which can create hazards that make units dangerous to inhabit.
In the year to date, the city says it has amped up its funding to more than $104 million for tenant access to legal assistance—that’s from $6 million in 2013. Overall, the city has seen a record 37 percent drop in residential evictions since 2013, according to the mayor’s office. But there is still much work to be done, said Johnson.
“The Council took a big step forward in this battle with the Universal Access Law in 2017, but this map shows how much more work we have left to do to help tenants here in the city and on the state level,” Johnson said.