Pilot program to legalize basement apartments developing in East New York

August 3, 2018


Mayor Bill de Blasio in June announced the city would help landlords create and renovate legal basement and cellar apartments in Brooklyn. This includes making the apartments up to code by ensuring proper safety requirements and windows, among other modifications. As a part of the pilot program, homeowners can apply for the basement pilot program through a city-approved, community-based organization. “This program will increase the stock of affordable housing in East New York, provide additional income to homeowners, and ensure tenant safety,” de Blasio said. The deadline for the basement conversion program is August 15 (h/t City Limits).

According to the city, tenants in illegal basement units usually have no lease and live in subpar conditions. The basement conversion program is a result of a study conducted in 2016 and was part of the East New York Neighborhood Plan, one of the mayor’s first rezonings of his administration.

The pilot program focuses on one- and two-family homes in Brooklyn’s Community District 5, which includes East New York, Broadway Junction, City Line, Cypress Hills, Highland Park, New Lots, Spring Creek and Starrett City.

The program is expected to add to the city’s housing stock, aiding de Blasio to reach his goal of creating or preserving 300,000 apartments by 2026.

To qualify, a homeowner must earn at or below 165 percent of the area median income and live in the home as a primary residence. Once a homeowner applies for the pilot program, a community-based organization will help them apply for a low-interest financing program and help them select an architect and contractor from a list approved by the city. The organization will also monitor the construction of the basement.

As 6sqft reported in February, a study from the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) found a conversion program could convert 38,000 basements without having to significantly change city or state laws. The program is being overseen by the Department of Buildings, Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of City Planning. After studying the pilot program, legislation may be introduced that would make it available citywide.

[Via City Limits]


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