Safety First: Is East New York Safe?

‍As a New Yorker, the question of safety is always top of mind when considering moving to a new neighborhood. Today, we delve into the East New York neighborhood, located in the eastern section of Brooklyn. We’ll evaluate its safety, analyze crime statistics, and explore residents’ sentiments about living in the area.

Understanding East New York

East New York is a residential neighborhood with a rich history dating back to the 1650s. Known for its diverse cultural makeup, it has seen a significant transformation over the years. Its territory is marked out from the Cemetery Belt and the Queens borough line to the north, reaching down to the calm waters of Jamaica Bay to the south, with its western borders sketched by the Bay Ridge Branch railroad tracks and Van Sinderen Avenue.

Aerial view of Brooklyn with Bensonhurst, Fort Greene and Bay Ridge in the distance

The neighborhood’s evolution is a tapestry of societal shifts, as it transitioned from rural farmlands to an urban enclave. With the establishment of the Long Island Rail Road in the 1830s, East New York began attracting waves of immigrants, enriching the area with a blend of traditions and experiences.

The architectural landscape is a mix of pre-war and post-war buildings, standing as silent witnesses to the passage of time. Today, numerous community initiatives are underway to foster growth and development, including urban farming projects, educational programs, and housing rehabilitation efforts, all aimed at enhancing the quality of life for its residents.

The cultural vibrancy of East New York is evident in its myriad of festivities, from summer street fairs to annual parades celebrating the neighborhood’s eclectic heritage. The area also boasts several local eateries, each offering a taste of the world from Caribbean to Latin, African, and beyond.

This locality is not just a mixture of cultures but a stew with each ingredient contributing uniquely to the overall flavor. The local arts scene is burgeoning too, with galleries, live music venues, and theaters providing a platform for creative expression and community engagement.

The vicinity of East New York to prominent city attractions and its accessible transit system via subway and bus lines, make it a convenient residential choice for those working in neighboring boroughs. Moreover, its green spaces like Highland Park offer a respite from the urban hustle, while the nearby Gateway Center provides a retail haven for shopping enthusiasts.

The Neighborhood’s Demographics

The population of East New York is as diverse as it is large. According to the 2010 United States census, the population was 91,958, a 10.4% increase from the 83,275 counted in the 2000 census. The ethnic makeup of the neighborhood was largely African American (63.6%) and Hispanic (29.6%), with a smaller percentage of Asian (3.0%) and White (1.3%) residents.

Economic Landscape

East New York has faced economic challenges over the years. The median income is $36,786, notably lower than the city’s median. Furthermore, an estimated 30% of residents live in poverty. These socioeconomic factors contribute to the neighborhood’s safety concerns.

Crime in East New York: A Closer Look

The crime landscape in East New York has been characterized by a series of ups and downs over the years, much like other parts of New York City. However, more recently, crime statistics indicate a trend of decrease across the city, particularly in violent crimes such as shootings, homicides, and robberies, as reported by the NYPD.

For instance, in September 2023, there was a substantial 34.2% drop in shooting incidents and a 27.9% drop in homicides compared to the same month in the previous year​. This decrease is part of a broader trend witnessed throughout the year 2023, where proactive policing strategies, including intelligence-driven precision policing, have played a pivotal role in driving down crime rate.

Furthermore, significant efforts have been made to confiscate illegal firearms from the streets, with thousands of gun arrests carried out by NYPD officers. For example, nearly 5,100 illegal firearms were seized, and over 3,353 gun arrests were made in the first nine months of 2023 alone. This is indicative of the city’s robust approach towards curbing gun violence, which has been a significant contributor to the overall crime rate.

Despite these positive trends, East New York still faces challenges. A report from the New York Post highlighted that as of 2023, the 75th Precinct in East New York recorded 303 auto thefts, which is an increase from the 296 auto thefts reported for the entire year of 2019​. This suggests that while strides have been made in reducing violent crime, property crime, particularly auto theft, remains a concern.

Moreover, a comprehensive analysis of the crime rate in New York City, which included an assessment of various types of crimes such as assaults, drug crimes, pickpocketing, and murders, provided insights into the neighborhoods with higher crime rates, although it didn’t specifically highlight East New York’s standing.

In wrapping up, it’s imperative to note that while the crime rate in East New York, much like other neighborhoods, is a complex issue influenced by a myriad of factors, the concerted efforts by law enforcement agencies are making a tangible impact in enhancing safety and security. Nonetheless, challenges like auto theft still persist, requiring continued vigilance and community engagement to foster a safer environment.

Violent and Property Crime Rates In East New York

The crime rates in East New York can indeed be delineated into violent and property crime rates, which provide a more nuanced understanding of the safety situation in the area. However, the specific rates or statistics for violent and property crimes in East New York are not readily available on the official sites. Some insights can be drawn from citywide statistics and efforts to curb crime in New York City, but these do not provide a localized view for East New York.

For instance, citywide statistics for July 2023 indicate reductions in five of the seven index-crime categories, including murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and grand larceny​. On a broader scale, New York State also has initiatives like the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative aimed at reducing shootings and saving lives in communities with high rates of violent and firearm-related crime.

Moreover, while there’s a platform like Niche that explores crime rates for the East New York neighborhood based on violent and property crime rates, it doesn’t provide the exact figures, only grades and residents’ safety perception polls.

For a more precise understanding of the violent and property crime rates in East New York, local law enforcement reports or community safety bulletins could provide the needed data. Law enforcement’s effectiveness is a crucial factor in community safety. According to local polls, responses about law enforcement’s visibility and responsiveness were evenly split.

Resident Opinions on Safety in East New York

The official survey and various discussions reveal a community at a crossroads, with many residents expressing a desire for change and development in East New York, particularly around Broadway Junction.

The survey, conducted by the Local Development Corporation of East New York (LDC ENY), uncovered that 80% of respondents see a need for change in the area, with housing and job accessibility emerging as top concerns for roughly half of those surveyed.

Looking towards Manhattan

The findings also reflect the community’s aspirations for more affordable and accessible housing, with 71% favoring affordable housing. This desire for development extends to local amenities, as respondents voiced the need for a larger supermarket, gym facilities, and retail shopping complexes in the community​.

Moreover, perceptions regarding law enforcement’s effectiveness in the area are mixed, with equal proportions of respondents in a Niche survey expressing that the police are very visible and responsive, visible but slow to respond, or not around much but quick to respond when needed.

These insights highlight a community yearning for economic opportunities, better housing, and an enhanced quality of life, while also exhibiting mixed feelings toward law enforcement’s role in ensuring safety. The various viewpoints underscore the importance of continued dialogue and action to address the diverse needs and concerns of the East New York community, towards fostering a safer and more prosperous environment for all residents.

The Impact of Urban Renewal on Safety

Urban renewal projects such as the East Brooklyn Congregations’ Nehemiah Program have played a significant role in improving the neighborhood’s safety and quality of life. This initiative led to the construction of new affordable owner-occupied housing, injecting new life into the area.

The Nehemiah Program, spearheaded by the East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC), has left an indelible mark on East New York, chiefly through its provision of affordable owner-occupied housing. Since its inception in 1983, the program has led to the construction of 4,500 houses in East Brooklyn, among other accomplishments in various urban areas​. Under the Nehemiah Program, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) supported the construction of homes developed by the EBC in East New York and Brownsville, fostering a consortium of over 30 congregations that pushed for urban renewal​.

A glimpse into the transformative impact of the Nehemiah Program can be seen through the words of EBC co-chair, Reverend David Brawley, who noted, “I believe that because of Nehemiah we’ve moved from murder capital to model community” in 2006​.

This statement encapsulates the aspirations and the realized potential of urban renewal projects in altering the narrative of safety and community livelihood in East New York. The Nehemiah houses, especially during the 1980s, significantly contributed to the net increase in East New York’s housing stock, accounting for 38% of the increment, and 77% of the rise in single-family houses.

This surge in housing availability not only provided shelter but also infused a sense of community security, further solidified by a 23.6% increase in home values within zones where Nehemiah houses were situated, as reported in a 2001 Fannie Mae Foundation study​.

Moreover, the program’s legacy extends beyond housing. In recent years, amid rising gentrification, EBC organizers have championed for the creation of new schools, parks, improved public transportation links, and retail spaces, further enhancing the neighborhood’s quality of life and countering the negative implications of gentrification​​.

Gentrification and Safety

Gentrification often brings changes to a neighborhood’s safety. In East New York, the process has been slow, but real estate companies have shown increased interest in the area, potentially leading to future transformations.

Conclusion: Is East New York Safe?

In conclusion, while East New York has faced safety challenges in the past, improvements have been made over the years. However, potential residents should conduct their own research and visit the area to assess their comfort with the neighborhood’s safety levels.

As a New Yorker, safety is paramount, and understanding the realities of each neighborhood is essential in making an informed decision. So, “Is East New York safe?” The answer depends largely on one’s perspective, tolerance for risk, and the specific area within East New York one is considering.