Housing: Three-Quarter House Tenants

Three-Quarter House residents rally to protest unlawful evictions and lack of promised services.

Three-Quarter Houses are buildings that rent beds in apartments and houses for profit and falsely claim to provide supportive and other services. These unlicensed facilities have proliferated in New York City and are located throughout the five boroughs, with large concentrations in central Brooklyn and the Bronx. Originally fed by a flood of referrals from the city shelter system, operators now also recruit tenants leaving substance abuse units, reentering the community after serving time in jails or prisons, or being discharged from hospital psychiatric units by promising support services and assistance with finding permanent housing.

Instead of services, however, tenants are packed into overcrowded sleeping rooms in apartments and houses that often have serious building violations and hazardous conditions. Operators often require residents to attend off-site substance abuse programs regardless of their individual treatment needs, and most are forced to vacate the premises during the day, even if they have nowhere else to go. Tenants who complain about conditions, refuse to “comply” with forced treatment, or who have completed an outpatient program but have received no help to find permanent housing, are often unlawfully evicted.

Mobilization for Justice provides advice, counsel and representation to residents on housing and related legal matters and conducts workshops for residents on their rights. In collaboration with Neighbors Together, a community-based organization in Brownsville, MFJ organized the Three-Quarter House Tenant Organizing Project (TOP), a group of current and former residents fighting for fair and just treatment of tenants and a safer system of affordable housing. Link to TOP on Facebook and Twitter.

Mobilization for Justice worked in collaboration with the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Neighbors Together to produce Three-Quarter Houses: The View from the Inside, a report released October 17, 2013.  It reveals rampant building violations, dangerous overcrowding, and unlawful evictions in an unregulated industry that preys on people who have no other housing options.

Listen to a WNYC report on three-quarter houses

Read articles about three-quarter houses