On Friday, the New York Daily News published an exclusive story on how the crime stats for the Hunts Point area or the 41st precinct have historically been merged with the crime stats from Riker's Island, affecting the auto and home insurance rates of thousands of Bronx residents. This has occurred even though the neighborhood has a much lower median income and residents' are barely able to afford the rates. State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo have vowed to change state laws to address this issue, and for that I applaud them.
|Aerial map of Hunts Point and Longwood, c.2010|
by NYC.gov (http://maps.nyc.gov/doitt/nycitymap/)
There is another concern affected by these stats, whether or not businesses can or decide to relocate to the South Bronx. Many businesses, particularly franchises, also refer to crime stats in making their decisions to relocate to a neighborhood, and if crime is falsely reported as higher than it actually is, it can scare off investment. Even for those who do choose to do business near Hunts Point and Longwood, they might be paying needlessly high rates of insurance because of this oversight. This could potentially be a reason why the Banknote Building, a building that has been redeveloped to serve as a business incubator in Hunts Point, has struggled for some time to attract new tenants and startups.
And the problem is not only limited to the South Bronx. These reported higher rates of crime also affect the borough-wide stats, potentially affecting everyone's rates. As importantly, these inflated rates paint a false picture of a lack of progress in reducing crime, when in fact the opposite is true. The new City Council needs to work with One Police Plaza to change their reporting mechanism so as to capture Riker’s data separately from the Bronx. This can go a long way to making it easier and more attractive to do business in the Bronx, encouraging new businesses and new jobs to come to the borough.