What Are Three-Quarter Houses?

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. Most tenants receive public assistance and their rent is paid directly to operators by the city’s Human Resources Administration. Because so many people are crowded into each house, operators are able to profiteer from running an illegal boarding house, bringing in multiple rental payments for small units.