Neighborhood Data: East Harlem

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Neighborhood Introduction:

The definition of neighborhood, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “a section lived in by neighbors, and usually having distinguishing characteristics, forming a community within a town or city. The area is surrounded by a particular place, person, or object, causing neighborly feeling or conduct”. Every neighborhood is different although, they can be categorized into high income neighborhoods, middle class neighborhoods, and low income neighborhoods. I believe the complexity of gentrification is often applied to lower income neighborhoods.

Developer’s chief focus is on improving the neighborhood, however, the improvement conforms to the middle class, and upper class expectations, not for the betterment of the lower class population. The negative results are typically an increase in rent, and property values, along with a change in the neighborhood’s culture. The outcomes of gentrification is negatively viewed, by the East Harlem neighborhood since there’s more cons then pros. In fact, the majority of East Harlem occupants central argument is how the allocation of Mayor De Blasio new rezoning housing development plan would do more harm to the neighborhood than good.

The neighborhood boundaries of East Harlem is located in “Upper Manhattan, it encompasses the area between the area north of the upper east side and 96th street to east 42nd street east of 5th Avenue to the East and Harlem Rivers. The East to West Boundaries: The East River to Third Ave. North to South Boundaries: The Harlem River to East 96th St.” (East Harlem NYC Neighborhood Guide - Compass. 2018) The East Harlem Neighborhood has several connectors such as sidewalks, streets, parks, trains, and bridges. The well-known streets for tourist’s attractions are, 125th and 116th street and Lexington Avenue. Both streets are popular for their shopping areas, restaurants and mall.

The famous connectors that are used as a form of transportation are, The Metro North train, MTA transit, Marcus Garvey Park, and the East River Pier’s (Esplanade), 15, 35, and 42. The other FDR Bridge, Randall’s Island, Wards Island and Central Park. Fifth Avenue is the cutoff point that separates East Harlem from West Harlem. The East Harlem neighborhood has a large amount of physical structures like offices, shelters, apartment buildings, playgrounds, laundromats, and precincts. The aforementioned places are used by the East Harlem population on a daily basis 24 hours, nonstop.

Furthermore, there are a variety of governmental acts centered on gentrification, which exemplifies, why the voice of the East Harlem residents needs to be widely heard throughout the legislative committees. This is where housing groups come in and currently advocacy groups are pushing for equitable housing market that they feel they’re entitled to. SBJSA coalition says Mayor DeBlasio Neighborhood Rezoning Plan is destroying historic heritage within the neighborhoods. The Movement for Justice in El Barrio, says

Population Characteristics:

The population of East Harlem residents, the workers, and the students occupying these entities is approximately 123,579. According to the Community Health Profiles of 2015, the race and ethnicity is 51% Hispanics, 31% blacks, 12% Whites, 6% Asians and 2% of population falls under “others” category. The following total number could be greater considering, if all illegal undocumented immigrants were reported in households, specifically, during the census data collection, which would produce a higher count percentage-wise.

Asian, and 2% of the population falls in Twenty six percent of people living in East Harlem were born in another country and 20% are limited in their use of the English language.

In terms of age, 22% of the population falls in the 0 -17 years range, 11% are 18-24 years, 32% are between 25 – 44, 23% are between the ages of 45 – 64, and 12% are 65 years and older. When it comes to education, 36% of the population are college graduates, 38% are high school graduates, and 26% have less than a high school education (King, Hinterland, Dragan, Driver, Harris, Gwynn, Linos, Barbot, & Bassett, 2015).


The amalgamation of this Spanish Harlem neighborhood is very unfortunate when it comes to the adult education attainments. Only 60.4% of the population are college graduates. Exactly 87.2% have a high school diploma or higher, and 10.1% some college and no degree, and 12.7 % with Equivalency diplomas. Then there’s the 26% with less than high school education, 5.6% is for 9th to 12th grade level, and 7.2% is under 9th grade level. These education gaps, alone will cause a detrimental impact to human capitalism of the East Harlem neighborhood. In other words, the majority of the neighborhood would be uneducated about knowledgeable academics, necessary to productively compete in today’s economy and job market. The less education development the less chances they would have in being marketable for career opportunities. Human capital is the stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value I think this will serve as an economical setback to weaken East Harlem’s human capital in neighborhood.

Income Characteristics:

East Harlem can be considered as a neighborhood in economic distress. Thirty one percent of residents are living in poverty, 12% are unemployed and 49% face a burden paying for housing. These amounts are significantly higher than in other areas around New York City (King, 2015). The Manhattan Community Profiles says the unemployment rate in 2016 were 5.5%

The median income of the neighborhood is $29,696. Medium income for the rest of Manhattan is $79,080 the federal poverty level is $25,100 for a family of four. This is true even through the majority of the population worked a full time, year-round job. In terms of age groups, those 75 years and older have the highest rate of poverty at 50%. The lowest age group for poverty is the 25 – 34 year old’s where the poverty rate is 22%. Considering the various levels of poverty, the largest number of those living in poverty are at 500% of the poverty level (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). “PUMA states the poverty rate for East Harlem is 33.8% and median income is 31,268%”

Housing Characteristics:

Poorly maintained homes are one unfortunate component of East Harlem housing. While the city of Manhattan has 57% of its housing having maintenance defects, East Harlem has maintenance defects in 76% of homes. Almost 50% of East Harlem residents spend more than 30% of their income on housing (King, 2015). There are 45,905 total housing units in East Harlem. Within these units, 3,048 are vacant. Only 3,193 of the occupied units are owner occupied, the remainder are occupied by renters. The median rent cost is $1,575 a month (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). According to The Furman Center the Homeownership rate is 23% and rental vacancy is 4.5%, (pg. 71) The PUMA data states the homeownership rate of “East Harlem PUMA, NY is 7.14%,”

After reviewing the Furman I found that “Real median gross rent in East Harlem increased from $681 in 2006 to $893 in 2016. Median asking rent — rent for units being advertised for lease — in 2017 was $2,218 in East Harlem, compared to $3,195 in Manhattan and $2,800 citywide. In 2016, 23.4% of renter households in East Harlem were severely rent burdened (spent more than 50% of household income on rent). The rental vacancy rate in East Harlem was 3.1%. In 2016, the homeownership rate in East Harlem was 6.6%. There were 109 property sales in East Harlem in 2017. Sales prices for all residential property types remained about the same in East Harlem between 2016 and 2017, compared to an increase of 1% in Manhattan and an increase of 8.3% citywide.”

Health Characteristics:

Health is another area that is a concern for East Harlem. Compared to the other areas of New York City, East Harlem is the least healthy. Only 70% of the population reports that their health is excellent, very good, or good. Of the total population, 19% are smokers, 34% have at least one sugary drink daily, 33% are considered obese, and 13% of adults have diabetes. Additionally, 24% of the population is without any form of health insurance. However, East Harlem leads the way in terms of having the most teenaged girls getting the complete human papillomavirus vaccine series and has the most adults getting tested for HIV. East Harlem also has an issue with prenatal care with 10.3% of women having live births having very late or no prenatal care (King,, 2015).

HIV is an ongoing concern for East Harlem. For every 100,000 people, 46 of them are diagnosed with HIV. This is also the highest rate within the geographic area of New York City. High blood pressure is also an issue in East Harlem. There are 401 for every 100,000 people suffering from strokes. Lastly, there is the issue of mental health. Again, East Harlem has the highest number of people needing psychiatric hospitalizations. This number is 2,016 for every 100,000 people (King,, 2015).

Substance Abuse Characteristics:

Drug and alcohol-related hospitalizations in East Harlem are more than twice the rate of all of Manhattan and New York City. For every 100,000 adults, East Harlem has 2,333 alcohol-related hospitalizations. For hospitalizations related to drugs, the area has 2,822 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people. For the much larger area of New York City, there are only 907 hospitalizations for drugs for every 100,000 people (King, 2015)

Neighborhood Conclusion:

Overall, East Harlem rates first when compared to other areas of New York City when it comes to areas of concern. Income is in the low making brackets while poverty is on an even higher scale. Thus, college education rates are the prime cause of lower income households in East Harlem. At worst, housing costs are significantly higher when compared to income, and housing in other Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Battery Park, Sutton Place, and Alphabet City. These higher class neighborhoods demonstrate housing inequality and gentrification amongst neighborhoods. And Bill DeBlasio current Rezoning Plan only add more housing constraints instead of ameliorating them.

It appears that community development should focus on improving housing conditions. With 76% of housing needing maintenance, there is much improvement to be done. However, this has to be done with the expectation that housing costs will not rise as a result. This will just increase the number of people experiencing hardship in terms of paying for housing.

Other community development suggestions would be to create campaigns to push for government to use appropriate income criteria in the housing market area median income of income (AMI) whereby it’s truly an affordable amount of rent for all East Harlem residents, need to be steered towards college attainment, by promoting the importance of college education.

It would be prudent to teach the Latin American people and Black people in the neighborhood why it’s imperative they enroll in healthcare, wiser health choices is good for social mobility of the neighborhood. Educators in the neighborhood could introduce benefits of college, the more college enrollment, the m more people finishing college, income in the area will increase.

Today there are still unresolved housing disparities which needs to be reformed. Especially, a tremendous need to create a plan to decrease the significant burden on poor residents in the East Harlem.

It’s certainly time to reshape this gentrified East Harlem neighborhood who is overpowered by housing inequalities of increasingly high priced rents. What needs to be properly addressed, is the unwanted hardship displacement in East Harlem. Could be reduced and why the De Blasio Administration having effectively increased housing conditions that are in need of vast improvement. Why these things occur, will help the community to find effective solutions for improving these troubled, perpetuated aspects of the East Harlem neighborhood.


Atlas Statistical Graphs (2018) Retrieved from

Community Heath Profiles (2018) Retrieved from

East Harlem NYC Neighborhood Guide - Compass retrieved from

Krisel, B. (2018, September 17). Developers Plan Building Boom In East Harlem, Report Says. Retrieved from

Fighting for a city for humans — not developer Retrieved from

King L, Hinterland K, Dragan KL, Driver CR, Harris TG, Gwynn RC, Linos N, Barbot O, Bassett MT (2015). Community health profiles. Manhattan Community District 11: East Harlem; 2015; 11(59):1-16.

Merriam-Webster. (2018). Neighborhood. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from

New York City Planning. (2017, November 30). East Harlem rezoning project. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from

NYU Furman Center (2018) the Furman Center for Real Estate Retrieved from

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U.S. Census Bureau. (2016). Community facts. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from

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Neighborhood Data: East Harlem. (2019, Feb 05). Retrieved July 12, 2024 , from

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