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PACC & Chhaya: Legalize Safe Cellar Apartments



The NY Times: Looser Rules on Illegal Housing Sought

Excerpt: "With the scarcity of affordable housing in the city and with many New Yorkers already living in makeshift apartments, some housing advocates are calling for a new approach. They want the city to legalize at least some of these units by waiving certain laws, as the Bloomberg administration did last year to test so-called micro-units. Smaller than the current 450-square-foot minimum for studios, such micro-units are planned for a Manhattan building scheduled to open in 2015 in a pilot project.

“Micro-units are the high-end version of the basement units,” said City Councilman Brad Lander, who said he was drafting legislation to create a new category for “accessory” dwelling units and specific zoning and building code  standards for them. “There are a lot of units that are perfectly safe that can’t be made legal under current rules.”

The push for more flexibility is coming from elected officials, community groups and building industry professionals who say unauthorized units continue to flourish despite enforcement crackdowns because they meet pressing needs: they house lower-income tenants, they help homeowners pay mortgages and they accommodate some of the city’s growing population."