Representation : A Case Study on Brownsville

Doing Good is Good Business / Week 11 / Case Study and Ideation

The group is considering a tentative idea around which we are planning to construct a rough prototype. The problem we are tackling is representation of people living in low income neighborhoods in urbanized cities. Below is the project idea accompanied by a data driven case study of Brownsville, Brooklyn. We are starting with a area local to NYC but the eventual scope of the project would be to be able to cater to any neighborhood in any major city around the world.

Tentative Idea

An online tool that enables local communities or non-profit organizations to enter and organize data. The platform would generate graphs, and data maps for the data that is inserted into the system. It also facilitates the concerned user to directly reach out to the designated authority through the neighborhood details or zip code.


Community asset mapping :

Community asset mapping provides an illustration of both the needs of a community and available resources. Asset mapping can help community stakeholders, foundations and government leaders determine whether existing resources are— or are not—meeting a community’s needs so that strategies for community development can be implemented accordingly.

There are many different indicators across six domains of well-being – economic security, housing, health, education, youth, and family and community—to determine where risks to child well-being are concentrated.

Poverty rate :

High rates of poverty in Brownsville are driven by low rates of employment that result in very low household incomes. The median household income in Brownsville is just over $25,000, third lowest among Brooklyn neighborhoods and significantly lower than the borough wide median household income (nearly $47,000) and less than half of the citywide median household income (nearly $53,000).

Access to banking :

New York City households are more likely to be unbanked and underbanked than households nationwide, and households in Brownsville (PUMA) have the third highest unbanked rate and ninth highest underbanked rate out of 55 PUMAs in New York City. Nearly three out of ten households in Brownsville (PUMA) do not have a bank account, compared to just over one in ten citywide. Over half of households in Brownsville (PUMA) are either unbanked or underbanked.

Possible Emphasis Strategy: Banking development in Brownsville

In 2003, New York City adopted its own BDD program using city funds to help establish bank branches where they were most needed. The Banking Development Working Group, a partnership between the New York State Banking Department and several New York State and City agencies, was created in 2004 to promote the new city BDD program. The working group identified eleven communities, including Brownsville, which were lacking in mainstream banking institutions. These communities are eligible for ‘Enriched BDD’ status and banks that establish a presence in these neighborhoods through the BDD program are eligible for combined incentives from state and city agencies. The ‘Enriched BDD’ program has resulted in branch openings in six of the eleven identified communities, but not in Brownsville.

Vacant Lots :

Around half of the 730,810 square feet of vacant lot space in Brownsville is publicly held, adding up to 357,123 square feet, or the equivalent of 7.5 football fields.

LIH Housing Projects : The New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) has been soliciting community input for plans to develop vacant lots in Brownsville.14 With the help of community stakeholders, HPD is holding public meetings and collecting input through an interactive online mapping tool. While HPD’s priorities include affordable housing and retail spaces, residents are also expressing the need for youth recreation centers, supermarkets, and community spaces.

Transportation :

The limited access and reliability of subways in Brownsville may contribute to Brownsville workers having among the longest commute times for workers living in Brooklyn. According to census data, 70 percent of Brownsville workers use public transportation to get to work, an even higher share than New York City (56 percent) and Brooklyn (62 percent) as a whole. Thirty-seven percent of Brownsville workers report a commute of an hour or more, the sixth highest figure of all Brooklyn neighborhoods. Brownsville residents report longer commutes than those in many neighborhoods that are just as reliant on public transportation and even further from the primary job centers in Manhattan. This includes East New York—Brownsville’s neighbor to the east—where 70 percent of workers report using public transportation, but only 27 percent report a commute of over one hour, despite being further from Manhattan than Brownsville.

Social Programs with a focus on Brownsville :

The Brownsville Partnership, Jobs-Plus, Ocean Hill and Brownsville Neighborhood Improvement Association

Source :
CCC From Strengths to Solutions document on meeting community needs in Brownsville

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