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How Hurricane Sandy Exposed The City's Illegal Apartments

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More than a year after Sandy, the superstorm's ripples are still being felt—especially by the city's illegal apartment dwellers. The Journal sheds light on the plight of both renters and landlords of these ubiquitous units, especially in hard-hit areas like the Rockaways and Staten Island's Midland Beach. Some are located in attics or basements, or boast ceilings less than seven feet high, or in some other way don't adhere to city regulations. They are generally cheaper than legal ones, but don't come with the same guarantees for repairs and other tenant protections. About 63,000 residential units were damaged during Sandy, according to the WSJ, but "advocates estimate that under counts thousands of illegal apartments."

For their part, landlords are wary of seeking government funding to fix up a flooded illegal unit; meanwhile, some are losing vital sources of income. Because of the general apartment shortage in Sandy-affected areas, tenants find themselves facing rent hikes and a serious lack of available, affordable housing. There have been proposals to legalize some of these cellar or attic apartments in order to alleviate the city's housing crunch, especially as the population grows, but these solutions are far from a reality for New Yorkers grappling with Sandy's after-effects 14 months after the surge subsided.
· Sandy Forced Poor to Leave Illegal Units [WSJ]
· Legalizing Cellar, Attic Units Could Alleviate Housing Crunch [Curbed]
· All Illegal Apartments coverage [Curbed]
—Photo via Curbed Flickr Pool/Scoboco of an NYC basement that may or may not be illegal... we don't know.