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The Basement Apartments Safe for Everyone (BASE) Campaign seeks to mobilize New York communities for the creation of the NYC Basement Apartments Safe for Everyone (BASE) Program, a citywide program to streamline basement and cellar conversions into legal apartments. The program will formalize over 100,000 affordable housing units in the city’s housing stock in the next mayoral administration’s first term. The NYC Basement Program will include citywide code changes, passed by legislative action in city council, which will allow for a simplified conversion experience for homeowners and regulatory agreements to protect tenants. The citywide program will provide subsidized loans, evaporating loans, and grants based homeowners’ income level to support the legalization of basements.
As New York City continues to grow, demand for housing has led to a dramatic expansion of the city’s informal housing market. Housing advocates estimate that there at least 114,000 apartments that are not reflected in the official number of certificates of occupancy granted by the City and are, therefore, not approved for use as living spaces. This number is likely a very low estimate.
Overcrowding, a scarce supply of affordable housing, inflated housing prices, and a housing gap have led to a surge in unapproved apartments throughout the city, with the highest rates occurring in the borough of Queens. Today, many have become home to new immigrants seeking housing during the city’s ongoing affordable housing crisis.
Due to archaic building codes, the majority of New York City families cannot currently use their basements to house their own family members or as rental units to support their own income.
We recommend the creation of a citywide program to streamline basement and cellar conversions into legal apartments. The program will formalize over 100,000 affordable housing units in the city’s housing stock in the next mayoral administration’s first term.
The NYC Basement Program will include citywide code and zoning changes including modifying required ceiling heights to 7 feet; permitting safe cellars to be converted into legal units; and waiving parking requirements for additional units in certain areas. These changes will allow for a simplified conversion experience for homeowners. The citywide program will provide subsidized loans, evaporating loans, and grants based on AMI of homeowners to support the legalization of basements. Additionally, accepting city funding to complete the project will require a regulatory agreement to preserve long-term affordable housing.
37-43 77th St, 2nd Floor, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
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