Illegal basement apartments seen as one answer to NYC housing shortage

New York /
Feb.February 18, 2013 12:00 PM

With New York’s incredibly tight supply of affordable housing, illegal basement rentals are on the rise, especially in the outer boroughs. But some industry experts see the illegal rentals as a boon — not a hazard — to the city and are pushing to change the rules governing what are known as accessory dwelling units, according to Crain’s.

Chhaya Community Development, a group that focuses on immigrant and affordable-housing issues, estimates that there are more than 100,000 illegal basement units renting mostly to young professionals and immigrants across the city.

“They’re really one of the last [affordable housing] options out there,” Seema Agnani, executive director of Jackson Heights, Queens-based Chhaya, said.

A Manhattan-based coalition of housing groups, known as Immigrant Housing Collaborative, has long championed the idea of changing zoning laws to allow for accessory dwelling units — something that cities such as Santa Cruz, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., have already done. But recently the idea received an endorsement from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, which has helped popularize the initiative.

A study from Stringer’s office found that altering the rules surrounding accessory dwelling units could add tens of thousands of affordable units to the city’s legal housing stock and would spur economic growth.

However, some such as CBRE chief executive Mary Ann Tighe has argued that the plan is hardly a panacea for the city’s affordable housing problem.

“Legalizing [dwellings] alone will not materially increase the housing stock since these illegal units are already occupied,” Tighe said. She went on to suggest that converting buildings in manufacturing districts to residential use would have a greater effect. “The city has embarked on rezoning these areas, but there are still more that are underutilized.” [Crain’s] —Christopher Cameron

.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
A rendering of 165 Broome Street (Credit: Handel Architects)

Nonprofit plans affordable housing development near Essex Crossing

Nonprofit plans affordable housing development near Essex Crossing
All Falls Down: Kanye West’s “Star Wars”-themed affordable housing plan hits snag

All Falls Down: Kanye West’s “Star Wars”-themed affordable housing plan hits snag

All Falls Down: Kanye West’s “Star Wars”-themed affordable housing plan hits snag
Kirk Goodrich, president of Monadnock Development, is opposed to the bill sponsored by Bran Lander. (Getty, Monadnock Development)

Council bill favoring nonprofits for affordable housing will hurt minority-led firms: developers

Council bill favoring nonprofits for affordable housing will hurt minority-led firms: developers
Ray McGuire photographed by Axel Dupeux.

The Closing: Ray McGuire

The Closing: Ray McGuire
Belveron Partners founder Paul Odland with 2000 Valentine Avenue (left) and 1985 Webster Avenue in the Bronx (Photos via Google Maps; Twitter)

Belveron Partners closes $280M fund for affordable housing

Belveron Partners closes $280M fund for affordable housing
City Council members Brad Lander (right) and Robert Cornegy

Lander seeks to keep for-profit developers from acquiring city-owned land

Lander seeks to keep for-profit developers from acquiring city-owned land
Cea Weaver and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (Getty; Weaver via Elijah Stevens)

“Cancel rent” housing activist tapped for City Planning Commission

“Cancel rent” housing activist tapped for City Planning Commission
Open New York's Will Thomas and Kyle Dontoh (Photos via Getty; iStock: Open New York)

Outsiders for years, NYC yimbys move into mainstream

Outsiders for years, NYC yimbys move into mainstream
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...