African American young adults moving out; Whites, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans moving in
The southern part of Crown Heights, the part near Eastern Parkway, is losing population. Mainly, this seems to be due to the aging of the African American population. The proportion of this community district that is African American has declined from a peak of 83% in 1990 to 66% of the area in 2010. About one-third of the African Americans are of West Indian ancestry. The biggest concentration of African Americans, 4,495, is in the southeast off St. John’s Place.
As the children of African Americans in the area became adults, they have tended to move to either the eastern side of Crown Heights, the area near Ralph Avenue, or they have moved out of the area entirely. The African Americans who are staying are the parents and grandparents. The number of African American kids under 18 years of age has dropped 21% between 2000-2010. Poorer African Americans are banging at the doors of the public housing in the Ralph Avenue area.
The west and north sides of Crown Heights in the community district, that part that is sometimes called Prospect Heights, is changing in its racial and ethnic complexity. Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of Whites in the community district has jumped by 146%, though the numbers are still a modest 16,000 out of almost 100,000 total population. The number of young White kids below age 18 has moved upward by 192% in the same time period. The number of Asians and Pacific Islanders has also increased by 72% to 2,740, and the number of Hispanic (of any race) has increased by 15% to 11,498. Local people are trying to resurrect the original name for the area, Crow Hill. However, others are pushing the name “Pro-Cro” as the hot new name.
The whole drama of racial and ethnic change is being played out most distinctly around the east and north sides of the Grand Army Plaza. The latest numbers for the census tracts (159, 161, 163, 203, 205, 207) in the areas show the story of population change:
White – 11,284
African American -- 4,079
Hispanic -- 2,072
Asian -- 1,305
(Note that the census tracts don’t perfectly match the community district boundaries.)
The biggest concentration of Whites, 3,845, is in the census tract #159 of which a small portion lies in Crown Heights in the area north and east of the Grand Army Plaza. The highest concentration of Asian Americans is also not far from this fast changing area.
Along the northern edge of Eastern Parkway the Hassidic Lubavitch Jews have established several institutions as well as a slowly growing number of homes. At present most of the Lubavitch Jews live south of their headquarters which is on the southside of Eastern Parkway.
The biggest concentration of Hispanics, 1,035, is between Brower Park and St. John’s Park (named after a Catholic orphanage) in the middle of the community district.
African immigrants have also been moving into Crown Heights. The 2010-2012 American Community survey estimates that there are 1,697 foreign-born Africans here. Another 6,785 residents say that their ancestry lays in sub-Saharan Africa. St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church and St. Gregrory the Great Roman Catholic Church are worship centers for African Catholics. Father Martin Asiedu, a Ghanaian, and Father Ogbogu Victor Ubaka, a Nigerian, minister at these churches. There are two predominantly African Protestant churches in the area while other congregations report attendance by African immigrants. The Palace of Joy is a branch of the Cherubim and Seraphim movement that originated in Nigeria and is pastored by a South African. The Palace of Joy is part of a denomination that originated in Lagos, Nigeria. Among the fourteen mosques in the area, a number report increasing numbers of African immigrant attenders.
Housing for poor folks is being taken away
This is a renter area with 83% of the home units occupied by renters. As Crown Heights residents die or move out, the landlords are converting rent-regulated units into market-rate units. In the five year period between 2005 and 2009, the proportion of rent-regulated apartments dropped by 11%, from 54% to 48%, according to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Public Policy. By 2011, the proportion of rent-regulated apartments had dropped another four percentage points to 44%. At this rate in twenty-years there won’t be any rent-regulated apartments left in the community district. According to the Furman Center, there are 50% more poor renters seeking affordable housing than there are housing units available.
Crown Heights is also in the Great Foreclosure Band that sweeps across Brooklyn to Eastern Queens. The banks’ savaging of homeowners through liar loans continues to unwind badly in this band of trouble. By 2010 the foreclosure rate in the community district grew 43% over the 2000 rate. In 2013 the rate in the city as a whole spiked upward by 31% to an all-time high. The foreclosure rate in Crown Heights unsurprisingly went up also but at a lower rate than some other hotspots in the Great Foreclosure Band.