U.S. neighborhoods grow more crowded

July 02, 2002
It's all they talk about these days on the front stoops of old working-class neighborhoods in this frayed city. The six, sometimes eight immigrants crowded into the tiny row house next door. The loud stereos. The beer bottles in the backyard. The neighbors even have a name for the small homes rented to large groups of Hispanic men who work odd hours: Guatemalan motels.
      Fifteen miles to the east in tony West Windsor Township, talk of crowding is muted. No one complains that too many people live in the 4,000-square-foot houses. But property taxes keep rising to help pay for more schools. So the neighbors grumble about the Asian families who take in the children of out-of-town relatives to get them in the local schools — among the best in the country.
      After almost a half-century of decline, crowding in American housing is on the rise. Census 2000 data released last month show that 6.1 million households are classified as crowded, up 36% from 1990. That's almost three times the increase in the general population during the same period. The percentage of all households that are crowded has increased less dramatically, but the rise is significant because the population has grown substantially.