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NYC basement apartments up for debate at City Council hearing

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An East New York pilot program will be up for discussion at a City Council hearing on Tuesday

The city is moving forward with its plans to create livable basement apartments, Crain’s has learned. On Tuesday, the New York City Council will hold its first hearing on a pilot program set to launch in East New York, that would create more affordable housing in the form of these basement apartments, and give landlords incentives like tax breaks to bring these basement units up to code.

The legislation to create this pilot program is being introduced by City Council member Brad Lander, who hopes that a successful pilot program in East New York will eventually help in citywide implementation. Lander told Crain’s that nearly 100,000 New Yorkers live in basement apartments at present, but most of the apartments aren’t up to fire and safety codes.

The city hopes that the pilot will help bring these spaces up to code, while also creating affordable housing as the city reels from an affordable housing crisis. Changes might include adding sprinkler systems and creating an additional exit. Properties with an existing basement or cellar that meet the defined height requirements could be converted. The Mayor has also contributed nearly $12 million for this pilot program, but the administration is still in the process of selecting a non-profit that will oversee the running of the program.