According to the latest Census Bureau data, about 9 percent of all households — or nearly 280,000 units — in New York City have more than one person per room, a common government measure of crowding. A decade ago, the rate was 8 percent. The change represents nearly a 13 percent increase. By comparison, the national crowding rate is 3.4 percent.
The crowding problem in New York worsens considerably in specific neighborhoods, particularly those with large working-class and immigrant populations where it is not unusual for two families to cram into apartments intended for one, and laborers to sleep two, three or more to a room.
While the Bronx and Brooklyn have the highest percentage of crowded units among the boroughs, according to Census Bureau data from 2014, the community district with the highest rate of crowding is in Queens and encompasses Elmhurst and southern Corona. There, a quarter of all residential units are considered crowded. A study published in February by StreetEasy.com found that five of the top 10 most crowded neighborhoods in the city were in central Queens.
The overcrowded dwelling typically finds its most severe expression in illegally converted basement and cellar apartments, most of them overcrowded and riddled with safety hazards such as shoddy construction, dangerous wiring and improper means of exit in the case of a fire.