With a total area spanning a bit more than 70 square miles and a population of more than 2.5 million in 2016, Brooklyn remains the most densely populated part of the City of New York. An independent village until the beginning of the 20th century, this borough recently underwent radical and extensive changes.
Today, finding a house within its boundaries requires both luck and access to large amounts of money. Hipsters, artists, and international tech firms have reclaimed the streets, turning the area into a thriving center for liberalism and multiculturalism. If you happen to travel through the city, you shouldn’t be surprised to find different ethnic groups peacefully coexisting and sharing its spaces.
Nevertheless, the New York City Housing Authority still maintains and operates several public housing complexes. These locations, originally built to provide less wealthy families with an affordable dwelling place, still offer plenty of fertile ground for crime and other illicit activities.
As a rule of thumb, strolling through the projects is never a wise idea. Local crime lords and gangs impose their own versions of the law, with violence arguably being a constant threat. If you really can’t help the need to visit these parts of the city, the following lines can surely help. Here are the 10 most dangerous projects in Brooklyn.
Number 10: Red Hook Houses
Completed in 1938, merely a year before World War II would erupt in Europe, Red Hook Houses is one of the several reforms introduced by the Roosevelt administration. The main objective behind the creation of this complex was giving the city of New York a functional space within which to grow.
When its doors first opened in 1939, rent was less than 6$ a month. According to accounts, the complex featured some of the most advanced technologies of the time. Eleanor Roosevelt herself would visit two families in 1940, praising the looks and sturdiness of their homes.
Today, things have changed. In 1988, LIFE magazine labeled the Red Hook Houses complex as the “crack capital of America”. In more recent times, surveys showed how a large part of its occupants lived on welfare and carried a firearm. There’s still hope, though: crime in the area seems to be going down.
Number 9: Van Dyke Houses
Part of a much larger series of houses known as Brownsville, the Van Dyke Houses complex was recently expanded. The 100 new units – financed by the NYCHA in 2015 – were purposely designed to house extremely-low and low-income families.
In an effort to promote education and keep young tenants away from crime, the site also offers a wide range of services. Community rooms, computer areas, employment workshops, social services specialists, and clinics are all available within the village.
No matter what, it looks like there’s still much to be done. In the summer of the same year, local newspapers reported an increase in murders and other violent activities. Starting on May 29th, 2015, six people were killed within the premises in less than 12 days. Two years later, crime remains a major issue.
Number 8: Howard Houses
Similarly to other places in the neighborhood of Brownsville, the Howard Houses complex often makes it to the news. Spanning from East New York to Pitkin Avenue, the 10 state-provided buildings are known as some of the most dangerous in the area.
Local residents are forced to keep their heads down while drug addicts and gangs commit a series of petty crimes. Pinned among robberies, assaults, thefts, and shootings, those who don’t fly the colors of a specific group have had to adapt in order to survive.
Among other things, a 28-year-old man was recently gunned down in front of the project following a rather heated argument with a fellow resident. Despite the abundance of witnesses, it took police almost six months to locate and arrest the perpetrator. Such delays may further highlight the need for caution while navigating the area.
Number 7: Brownsville Houses
The entire neighborhood of Brownsville is considered a nightmare by its tenants. The Brownsville Houses host several dangerous gangs, who won’t miss a chance to terrorize other inhabitants in what can only be considered a continuous show of force.
The internet is full to burst with articles recounting the life and events that characterize this neighborhood. In 2012, TIME magazine ran a story that perfectly showcases the situation. Photographer Reed Young, who visited Brownsville while working at a documentary on crime in Brooklyn, was told it would be insane to walk around without an escort.
Things haven’t really changed since then. Even though gentrification is slowly catching on, Brownsville remains an extremely troubled part of the city. Solving murders and maintaining the peace is still a top priority for local enforcement officers, with cases piling up at an astonishing rate.
Number 6: Louis Heaton Pink Houses
The Louis Heaton Pink Houses on Linden Boulevard are the Pink Houses Crew’ home turf. The gang, well-known to both local residents and law enforcement, had already been indicted for robbery as early as 2003.
The 24 8-story buildings provide the perfect ground for all kinds of mischief. Often run-down and left for abandoned, these units are taken over by drug addicts, gang members, and peddlers dealing in guns and narcotics.
Perhaps in an effort to draw attention to the issue, a YouTube channel known as ShowUp Films released a dedicated series of videos set within the Pink Houses. Project Heat – that’s the name of the show – aims at giving its viewers a pretty accurate representation of life in the low-income part of Brooklyn.
Number 5: Tilden Houses
As with other parts of Brownsville, these buildings were first constructed to house the city’s growing population. The Tilden Houses complex and its 8 structures are yet another infamous spot in Brooklyn. Gang-related and drive-by shootings can be easily witnessed in the area.
Those who lived here between the 70s and the 80s still remember the peculiar atmosphere that characterized that period. Gunshots and loud noises were extremely common at the time, to the point where most wouldn’t even pay attention to them anymore.
According to the NY Times, in 2011 a young mother was killed and several children were wounded when a gunman opened fire on a group of rivals. In a different article, some of the tenants even confessed having given up walking outside at night for fear of being robbed.
Number 4: Ingersoll Houses
At 102 Monument Walk, right along Myrtle Avenue in East Brooklyn, the housing project known as Ingersoll Houses can be found. Currently managed by the New York City Housing Authority and first completed in 1944, this complex includes 1823 apartments scattered across an area of almost 23 acres.
In recent times, the neighborhood further plunged into chaos. According to multiple sources, poor living conditions and widespread despair can be blamed for a long series of crimes. Murders rocked the streets around the Ingersoll Houses for long. A couple of years ago, for instance, a 76-year-old man was gunned down in what is still believed to have been a drug dispute.
High rates of unemployment and little to no alternatives encourage an increasing amount of young people to take up a career in crime. As the bodies pile up, local residents admit to being scared and – most importantly – quickly running out of hope.
Number 3: Marcy Houses
Best known as the birthplace and childhood home of famous businessman Jay-Z, the Marcy Houses are only a handful of miles to the left of central Brooklyn. The 27 building making up this complex yield a total of 1705 apartments.
The rapper, who’s now worth more than 8 million dollars, often mentions the time spent at the Marcy Houses throughout his childhood. In his many songs, the MC never fails to remind his listeners how drug dealing, gang-banging, and the constant threat of death irremediably shaped his life.
Today overpopulation, poor conditions, and an exceptionally high crime-rate still play a major role in the area. According to estimates, more than 4200 people live within these projects. Many of these come to terms with violence at an early age, eventually accepting it as a part of their existence.
Number 2: Eleanor Roosevelt Houses
Named after the longest-serving first lady in the history of the United States, this group of buildings is a place that more than 2000 people still call their home. Located on Pulaski Street, the towering structures can be easily recognized from miles away.
The dirt-brown facades littered with tiny windows hint at a life that is far from being pleasant. Throughout its existence, the Eleanor Roosevelt Houses saw waves of crime, violence, repression, and suffered from the lack of an efficient long-term solution.
Recently, these streets were once again flooded with drugs and firearms. In March 2017, a police operation succeeded in shutting down a local drug ring and led to the arrest of 11 people. Alongside other evidence, officers confiscated guns, heroin, crack cocaine, and more than 25 pounds of weed.
Number 1: Tompkins Houses
Life at the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant is so miserable that the NYCHA had to issue a statement in mid-2016. In the message, delivered to all residents, the government agency apologized for the lack of maintenance and the inability to grant standard living conditions.
Run-down buildings don’t seem to be the only problem around that neighborhood. Violence in the streets is still rampant, although some residents would swear the actual number of crimes went down during the last 10 or so years.
In 2014, residents witnessed the brutal murder of two police officers only a handful of feet away from the main gate. One Ismaaiyl Brinsley approached a parked patrol car and proceeded to unload his handgun at point-blank range. Both officers died within seconds. The killer, who fled on foot, would later take his own life using the same weapon.
This was our list of the 10 housing projects in Brooklyn that you should steer clear of!
Have you ever had the chance to walk through some of these locations? Know some stories or first-hand testimonies about the life in a public housing complex?
Let us know in the comments!
What are the worst housing projects in NYC? ›
In 2018, the Holmes Towers along with Isaacs Houses and Robbins Plaza ranked the worst in the nation after federal inspections by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.What is the biggest projects in Brooklyn? ›
|Brooklyn's Biggest Projects of 2016|
|Brooklyn's Biggest Projects of 2016||Rank||Architect|
|Brooklyn's Biggest Projects of 2016|
|Brooklyn's Biggest Projects of 2016||1||Foster + Partners, Adamson Associates Architects|
|Brooklyn's Biggest Projects of 2016||2||Hill West|
- Brownsville - Brooklyn's most dangerous neighborhood. North of Brooklyn, Brownsville is a ghetto that has the reputation of being one of the most most dangerous in New York. ...
- East New York: Dangerous neighborhood. ...
- Bedford-Stuyvesant: neighborhood to avoid.
- 335 developments in New York City.
- Staten Island has 10 developments with 4,499 apartments.
- Queens has 22 developments with 17,126 apartments.
- The Bronx has 100 developments with 44,500 apartments.
- Brooklyn has 98 developments with 58,669 apartments.
- Manhattan has 102 developments with 53,890 apartments.
The overall risk of crime is 1% higher than the National Average. With 1%, it goes without saying: is Brooklyn safe? There's no risk in this neighborhood with public transportation. Petty crimes and mugging are less common, so exploring at night, by foot or car, wouldn't give you the shivers.What are the worst neighborhoods in New York? ›
- Mott Haven.
- Tremont. ...
- Fordham. ...
- Norwood. ...
- High Bridge. ...
- Bedford Park. ...
- Brownsville. Brownsville is one of the few neighborhoods in New York that has remained relatively untouched by gentrification. ...
- Soundview. The Soundview neighborhood in the Bronx only barely made it on to this list. ...
Bay Ridge is one of the safest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, with an average of 5.9 non-violent crimes per 1000 residents. The coastal setting of the neighborhood offers numerous opportunities for dining, entertainment, and leisure.Is Brooklyn still dangerous? ›
All things considered, Brooklyn is a very safe place to visit. Brooklyn's violent crime rate in 2020 was 388.11 incidents per 100,000 people. Out of the 100 largest cities (by population) in the US, Brooklyn was in 75th place. This means that Brooklyn was deemed safer than 74 of the most populous cities in the US.How many people live in the Red Hook Houses? ›
According to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), 6,290 individuals live in the Red Hook Houses, Brooklyn's largest public housing development.How many housing projects are in Brownsville Brooklyn? ›
Brownsville has the highest concentration of public housing in the nation. Within one square mile, the community comprises more than 873 stories in over 100 different buildings.
Are the Marcy Projects Safe? ›
The Marcy Projects are in the 79th Police Precinct, which has had an overall 72% drop in crime since 1990. In 1990 there were 71 murders in the precinct, vs. 13 in 2008. Robbery and auto-theft have had similarly large drops in incidence.Where in Brooklyn Is it safe to live? ›
Some of the safest neighborhoods in Brooklyn are Park Slope, Dumbo, and Williamsburg. Brooklyn has changed significantly over the last few decades, with many neighborhoods gentrifying, and crime rates dropping throughout the borough, making it safer than ever.Is Queens safer than Brooklyn? ›
According to crime statistics, Queens is safer than Brooklyn, the Bronx, and even Manhattan. Although Brooklyn and Manhattan tend to be feature pricier real estate, Queens has a rate of violent crime that is more than 50% lower. In contrast, violent crime in the Bronx is more than 250% higher than in Queens as a whole.Which is the safest borough in NYC? ›
Besides being the safest borough overall, Staten Island is also home of the safest precinct in New York City, data from January to July of this year shows. The 123 Precinct, which includes the Tottenville, Huguenot, Rossville, Annadale, and Eltingville areas, recorded 1.7 crimes per 1000 residents, the data shows.Are the Marcy Projects dangerous? ›
The Marcy Projects, or Marcy House, is a 1,705-apartment public housing complex located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is infamously known for gun-violence, drug use, domestic abuse, and an overall threatening environment.Are the Pink Houses dangerous? ›
“The Pink Houses are among the most dangerous projects in the city, and their stairwells are the most dangerous places in the projects.” Residents of the complex, at 2724 Linden Blvd. in East New York, were frightened long before the shooting of Akai Gurley, 28.What part of Brooklyn is Marcy Projects in? ›
The Marcy Houses, or The Marcy Projects, is a public housing complex built and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and is bordered by Flushing, Marcy, Nostrand and Myrtle avenues.Is living in the projects dangerous? ›
Along with low-cost public housing comes an increased crime rate. As a result, the projects can be dangerous. Drug-fueled gang violence and poverty-motivated petty theft make most public housing projects a seriously rough place to live in.Where did Jay-Z live in Marcy Projects? ›
What building did Jay-Z live in in Marcy Projects? Jay-Z grew up in building 524 of the Marcy Projects according to The Brooklyn Ink.Where are the projects located in New York? ›
|NYCHA Property||Neighborhood/Subsection||No.# of Apartments|
|De Hostos Apartments||Upper West Side||219|
|Drew Hamilton Houses||Harlem||1,207|
|East River Houses||East Harlem||1,158|
What street is Marcy Projects on? ›
Building Description. Made notorious by one-time resident and music mogul Jay-Z, 101 Nostrand Avenue is better known as the Marcy Projects. This New York City Housing Authority complex is located in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, and was named after lawyer and solider William L. Marcy.