By Bill Parry
Several neighboring communities in Queens are bursting at the seams with overcrowded housing units, according to a new report from the real estate listings site StreetEasy.
Based on data released by city Comptroller Scott Stringer and the 2013 census, the report names Corona, North Corona, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights as the four most crowded neighborhoods in the city.
“Our neighborhoods are becoming more overcrowded because rents are skyrocketing, which in turn is forcing people to live in cramped apartments,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “Low wages and the lack of affordable housing also contribute to the situation. An increase in the minimum wage to $15 will allow more hardworking New Yorkers to afford rent independently as they make more money.”
Each of the four neighborhoods had a crowding rate of over 20 percent, in which a housing unit has more than one occupant for each room including living and dining rooms. To offset the combination of high rent, and low-wage jobs, many people are forced to live with extra roommates or extended family. The neighborhoods also have they highest percentage of immigrants in the city with 64 percent in Corona and East Elmhurst, and 62 percent in Jackson Heights, according to Stringer’s statistics.
“This comes as no surprise because my district, which I call the United Nations of all senate districts, is ground zero for immigrants and newly arrived immigrants,” Peralta said. Easy access to transportation, proximity to Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the high-performing schools have made the area a desirable place to live, according to City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst).
“Because of this popularity, overcrowding in schools and homes is a major challenge as is overdevelopment,” she said. “Overcrowding creates a strain on our public resources and infrastructure and I will continue to advocate for more seats and schools, as well as improving transportation and housing options.”
While the de Blasio administration has made affordable housing a priority with a plan that would keep 120,000 existing apartments affordable while creating 80,000 new ones, while trying to relieve overcrowded school districts.
“Overcrowding was one of the primary issues the mayor heard about at his town hall this winter in Jackson Height,” de Blasio spokesman Austin Finan said. “It is a longstanding problem and that’s why in January we announced funding for an additional 11,800 seats that have been incorporated into the capital plan and we will also be adding 1,800 new seats in District 30 and 800 seats in District 24 over the next five years.”
Queens ranked third among the boroughs with 9.4 percent of households being overcrowded. More than 73,000 units in the borough were considered crowded according to Stringer’s report.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr