More New Yorkers are turning to the city to avoid getting kicked out of their apartments.
In the 2005 fiscal year, the City's Human Resources Administration paid $48 million in emergency grants to landlords to prevent eviction for 31,478 households that had fallen into rent arrears.
In the 2013 fiscal year, the number jumped to 43,412, and the city doled out $121.6 million.
"We've never seen this many people in trouble. In my life, I've never seen anything that even approaches this," said Sally Dunford, executive director of the West Bronx Housing and Neighborhood Center, who said her agency serviced more than 1,300 people last year for eviction prevention.
While a job loss or illness is most often to blame for a tenant falling behind, landlords of stabilized units who illegally hike rents "hoping no one would catch them," are aggravating the loss of affordable units, she said.
Because legal increases are permitted after a vacancy, the more churn there is in the market "the more rents go up," she noted. Overcrowding is at epic levels, she added.
While the number of completed evictions -- about 30,000 annually -- has wavered only slightly in the last three years, more New Yorkers are facing the nightmare that is housing court.
The number of eviction cases filed in the city jumped from 119,263 in 2004 to 138,732 in 2013 -- with the number of cases in the city's poorest borough -- The Bronx -- rising from 40,387 to 50,134 during the same time period.
There are more cases than evictions because many people finally come up with money owed after their landlords have filed suit (sometimes, with the help of a one shot grant) or they move voluntarily.