Vote, Donate, Complain: Some Brooklyn Nabes Stand Out

Photo by: Jarrett Murphy
A banner in Crown Heights just before the 2008 election. When the votes were counted a few weeks later, fewer than half of the adults in the area voted, according to figures from the Center for the Study of Brooklyn.

A report on civic engagement found that Borough Park's residents donate the most to charity, East Flatbush is tops when it comes to voting and East New York has 311 on speed dial.

By: Jarrett Murphy

The 2008 presidential election generated unprecedented enthusiasm nationwide, but that didn't translate into especially high voter turnout in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, according to a report released Thursday.

Boroughwide, turnout edged over 50 percent—still well below the national 63 percent turnout rate, but better than the 47 percent of registered Brooklynites who balloted in 2004 or the 45 percent who exercised the franchise in 2000.

According to the report from the Center for the Study of Brooklyn (CSB), turnout four years ago was uneven across the borough: 68 percent of adults voted in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but only 32 percent in Bensonhurst.

The pattern partly reflects demographic differences: Some neighborhoods have a larger share of adults who are not citizens and cannot vote. Taking that into account, community district 17—which encompasses East Flatbush, Rugby and Remsen Village—posted the highest level of voter involvement, with only about 14 percent of its adult citizens not voting.

In this first of a series of trend reports, CSB a project of the Brooklyn Community Foundation (which also funds Brooklyn Bureau), looked at voting patterns and other indicators to assess levels of civic engagement in Brooklyn.

Among other findings:

-ZIP code 11201, which covers downtown and Brooklyn Heights, made the most campaign contributions to city candidates in 2009—more than $1 million. The Starrett City-Spring Creek area donated a mere $12,000 that year, the lowest of any ZIP code in the borough.

-According to City Council figures, more than a quarter of the complaints and inquiries from Brooklynites to their council members concerned housing or buildings. Transportation, finance, immigration and "general welfare" rounded out the top five concerns.

-Residents of the Coney Island area made fewer than 12,000 calls to 311 last year, while people in East New York logged nearly 30,700 inquiries—more than 20 for every 100 residents.

-Mail response rates for the 2010 Census improved compared with the year 2000 survey across most of northern and central Brooklyn but deteriorated modestly across a broad stretch of the borough's south.

-The poorest Brooklynites—those reporting incomes of $10,000 a year or less—gave more than 10 percent of their incomes to charity, according to 2008 IRS figures. That was nearly twice as high as the donation rate for borough households with incomes of $200,000 or more.

-ZIP code 11219 in Borough Park registered $3,000 in donations per tax return, nearly 9.7 percent of income—ten times what Greenpoint filers (who contributed a mere 1 percent of their incomes to charity) reported.