Bed-Stuy Residents Are Some of the Least Happy in the City

Photo via Matthew Rutledge/Flickr
Photo via Matthew Rutledge/Flickr

Granted, it’s a difficult thing to measure, but still, this data gathered by Talking Transition isn’t exactly encouraging: per their survey of 53,000 New Yorkers, a whopping 45 percent of Bed-Stuy residents responded that their “ability to live the life I want” is “getting worse” (only 17 percent of Park Slope/Carroll Gardens residents said the same), and 76 percent described housing in the neighborhood as “getting worse” as well.

Which is pretty funny, given how much better real estate companies like to say things are getting in the neighborhood—why, it might even be “the new Williamsburg!” It’s almost as if these two things might be connected, the influx of high-end real estate interests and the rising unhappiness of longtime residents? Of course, the data reflects a broader and much-discussed school of thought city-wide: that the rent is too damn high, as it were. The majority of residents in every single section of every single borough (Park Slope included) qualify affordable housing in their neighborhood as “bad and getting worse,” and Talking Transition notes, “The most negative sentiments come from New Yorkers 35–64 years old, and the data suggest that young New Yorkers become increasingly disillusioned with the affordability of housing in their neighborhoods as they get older.” None of it should exactly come as a surprise to De Blasio’s transition team—it’s sort of the whole reason he was elected, after all.

If you look at the rest of the charts, though, a more perturbing, less obvious pattern emerges: a majority of Bed-Stuy’s residents also responded negatively about the state of public safety and law enforcement, education, parks and public spaces, jobs and the economy, public transportation, health and social services, arts and culture… actually, to every single metric in the survey! It’s not the story you generally hear coming out of the neighborhood, which in many ways is regarded as one of the borough’s most up and coming. “You do feel the pinch of the lack of affordable housing,” one local told the Daily news. “On my block alone there are four or five brownstones being sold by banks.” And of course, if Bushwick is any indication, infrastructure changes like decent green space or improved public transportation often lag far behind newfound attention paid to a neighborhood (and of course, goes without saying that it shouldn’t take a fresh wave of gentrification to spur these things along in the first place). Anyway, we could all stand to keep in mind that before we go saying anything too Pollyanna-ish about any given “hot new neighborhood,” worth considering the lives of the people who actually live there. They can probably tell us a whole lot more than realtors can.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


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