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Construction & Design

New law to create more legal basements

Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed legislation to create a pathway for transforming certain basement and cellar apartments into safe, legal, affordable homes.

The new law establishes a three-year demonstration program to facilitate the creation and renovation of apartments in the basements and cellars of qualifying one- and two-family homes in Brooklyn Community District 5.

“There are thousands of basement apartments in our City, but too many are illegal and unsafe. This program will help New Yorkers secure safe, affordable homes and give homeowners a new legal source of income,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Residents in illegal basement and cellar apartments typically have no lease, limited rights, and live in substandard conditions.

The new law will allow property owners to create safe, legal and affordable apartments in their buildings. The City will also use the pilot to learn about how to overcome barriers that owners face when seeking to convert basement units.

Last summer, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development released a Request for Expressions of Interest to identify a Community Based Organization to run the program.

HPD will partner with Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), a local non-profit that will subcontract with four community non-profits.

The program will provide eligible low- to middle-income homeowners living in one- to three-family homes in East New York and Cypress Hills, Brooklyn with low or no-interest loans to convert their basements into legal, and rentable apartments, based on the altered Building Code.

The homeowner will also be provided with the technical assistance needed to close on a loan and complete the construction project.

“Finding a path to create safe, legal basement apartments that will add to our city’s affordable housing stock while stabilizing homeowners is an idea whose time has come,” said Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.

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