Brownsville has the highest adult asthma rates in New York City, according to a new report by housing-data website Localize.city. 

The analysis comes on the heels of the Asthma Free Housing Act, a new law which took effect on January 19, and aims to protect tenants from asthma and allergen triggers like mold, roaches, mice and rats.

The act requires landlords of non-public buildings with three or more units to perform yearly inspections of every apartment and to remediate any underlying conditions that may attract mold or pests within 24 hours of discovery.

However, Localize.city analysts raise the question of how well landlords will comply with the new law and released the report to help renters make educated decisions when moving or how to respond to conditions in their apartments that could cause asthma.

“Having done one of the most extensive studies on housing violations, we’re enabling all New Yorkers to know if the building and apartment they’re considering moving into have been well-maintained,” said Localize.city President Steve Kalifowitz. “This capability isn’t just valuable for people who are planning to move. We’ve heard from many residents who didn’t realize the extent of the problems in their building until they searched their address at Localize.city.”

Analyzing housing data from January 2013 through December 2018, as well as asthma rates for adults ages 18 and older from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention from 2015-16, the report reveals a strong correlation between high rates of these violations and high rates of asthma.

Brownsville has the city’s highest rate of asthma cases. Source: Localize.city

The report found that low-income neighborhoods, particularly in Central Brooklyn and the Bronx, were disproportionately affected by high rates of asthma, as well as housing violations that are asthma triggers.

Brownsville thereby had the highest asthma rates, with 14.2 cases per 100 residents older than 18; the neighborhood also ranked 25th for pests and 37th for mold violations. These rates in Brownsville were nearly twice as high as in neighborhoods with the lowest asthma rates: Manhattan’s Battery Park City and Garment District, Queens’ Little Neck/Douglaston and Oakland Gardens, and Brooklyn’s Dumbo.

The report concludes with a set of recommendations on how to respond to the occurrence of mold and pest. Tenants whose landlords do not address the issue satisfactorily, or not all at, can file a 311 complaint about mold or pests. For a violation to be cited, however, a city inspector must visit the building and see the conditions. If filing a 311 complaint doesn’t help, there are several organizations that might be able to assist, including Justfix.nyc, a free service to help New Yorkers get repairs for their home.

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