De Blasio signs off on basement apartment conversion program for East New York

March 5, 2019

Via Flickr

Certain basement apartments in East New York will be transformed into legal and affordable homes thanks to a new law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday. The legislation creates a three-year pilot program that helps homeowners renovate cellar and basement units to meet the new code standards, which include minimum ceiling heights, window sizes, and proper safety requirements. “There are thousands of basement apartments in our City, but too many are illegal and unsafe,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This program will help New Yorkers secure safe, affordable homes and give homeowners a new legal source of income.”

Tenants who rent basement units that are considered illegal often have no lease and live in poor or unsafe conditions. According to the city, Brooklyn’s Community District 5, specifically East New York and Cypress Hills, has an existing stock of one- and two-family homes needed to test the program. The conversion program, allocated $5.7 million by the city, was recommended by a working group in 2016, which convened to study parts of the East New York Neighborhood Plan.

Homeowners, who earn at or below 165 percent of the area median income and live at the home full-time, were first invited to apply for the program last summer. The city has partnered with local non-profit Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC) to provide the homeowners with low or no-interest loans to convert buildings into rentable apartments that are up to code.

CHLDC will also provide technical assistance by managing the construction process on behalf of the homeowner and working with the Department of Buildings, as well as applying for and obtaining the loans.

Because the program is limited to three years, eligible homeowners interested in participating should express interest by April 30 by filling out an online form found here or calling 311. Find more information on the program here.


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