Illegal basement apartments seen as one answer to NYC housing shortage

TRD 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
President Donald Trump (Getty, iStock)

Trump tweets that he “may END” Obama-era fair housing regulation

Trump tweets that he “may END” Obama-era fair housing regulation
City Council member Vanessa Gibson, Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council member Brad Lander (Getty)

Why the City Council abandoned affordable housing

Why the City Council abandoned affordable housing
Barika Williams of Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development and Adam Weinstein, CEO of Phipps Houses

Affordable housing experts talk systemic change

Affordable housing experts talk systemic change
A new report finds homes still unaffordable for majority of Americans (iStock)

TRD Insights: Homeownership unaffordable for average wage earner across 75% of US counties

TRD Insights: Homeownership unaffordable for average wage earner across 75% of US counties
Competition for affordable housing in New York City is highest among those who need affordable housing most (Getty, iStock)

Poorest face worst odds in city’s housing lotteries

Poorest face worst odds in city’s housing lotteries
S. Lawrence Davis and 160-05 Archer Avenue (Google Maps)

Shorewood scores $88M construction loan for first Opportunity Zone project

Shorewood scores $88M construction loan for first Opportunity Zone project
arrow_forward_ios

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

Loading...