Flood Risk and Basement Housing in New York City: The Impact of Extreme Weather on Vulnerable Housing Stock

Hurricane Ida, which struck New York City in September 2021, exposed the region’s vulnerability to extreme rainfall and inland flooding. The storm, which was responsible for the deaths of eleven people in their basement apartments, demonstrated risks associated with the city’s basement housing in the face of extreme weather.  

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To understand which communities in New York City may be vulnerable in future floods, the New York Fed’s Community Development team analyzed data on housing, flood risk, and socioeconomic characteristics. The team mapped New York City neighborhoods where basement apartments and the people who live in them are most exposed to the risk of flooding.

The resulting report, “Flood Risk and Basement Housing in New York City: The Impact of Extreme Weather on Vulnerable Housing Stock,” finds that that approximately 10% of low-income and immigrant New Yorkers live in census tracts with basement apartments that are at high risk of flooding.

The highest flood risk to basement housing is concentrated in south and east Brooklyn, south Queens, the east coast of Staten Island, and the East Bronx. The census tracts with the highest flood risk overall for low-income renters include the same areas, as well as East Harlem and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The report, which builds on earlier New York Fed research, follows the release of a separate white paper on the impact of flooding on New Yorkers’ household finances.

The report includes detailed maps showing both flood risk and flood depth in New York City. It also includes maps highlighting areas that are prone to higher flood risk and have higher shares of low- and moderate-income renters.

The report was developed as part of the New York Fed's Community Development efforts, which have three areas of focus: health, household financial well-being, and climate risk.

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