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Heat Map-Illegal Apartments Dwellings-NYC-SITU Studio-311 complaints-Department of BuildingsHeat Map of Illegal Dwelling 311 Complaints by SITU Studio

Although New York City has come a long way from the tenement days of yore, it still faces problems of illegal housing. In a city as dense in New York, the modern slum isn’t something low-rise and set apart from the rest of the urban fabric–it exists within our buildings. At a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, design firm SITU Studio created an urban heat map of 311 complaints to the NYC Department of Buildings for illegal dwellings. There’s no official number, with the complaint data “the only real indicators,” as SITU Studio partner Basar Girit tells Fast Company.

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These include townhouses, apartments and other buildings that have been subdivided, spaces within them that aren’t supposed to used for housing like attics and windowless basements, or buildings zoned for industry or manufacturing. SITU Studio estimates there are as many as 200,000 illegal housing units in New York City, more concentrated in the outer boroughs and catering towards mostly immigrants. But illegal housing exist even in the wealthiest zip codes, like the Upper East Side.

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In conjunction with the map, SITU Studio also photographed some of the apartments in partnership with local groups. As Fast Company writes “informal nature of this particular housing market makes it difficult for tenants to claim basic housing rights that exist in other parts of the city.”

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