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CHPC's Research on Basement Apartment Conversions

Making Room

CHPC’s research on basement apartment conversions was inspired by its flagship research initiative, Making Room.

Why Basements?

Basement apartments have always been a critical supplement to New York City’s housing stock. They are particularly advantageous because they create new rental units without the cost of acquiring land, rent for less than comparable above-grade units, and provide homeowners with a source of revenue to help pay a mortgage, maintain property, or cover other expenses. Basement apartments offer housing options and financial stability to underserved groups such as new immigrants, elderly residents aging in place, and multi-generational households.

Most of New York City’s basement apartments exist within the informal market, due to the financial and regulatory barriers faced by homeowners wishing to undertake a conversion. Keeping these arrangements under the radar jeopardizes the safety and security of both tenants and homeowners, empowering neither with leasehold rights and allowing the potential for unsafe living conditions. Streamlining a pathway for the conversion of basements into safe, legal apartments would make these housing arrangements safer and more stable, for homeowners and tenants, and add to the housing stock during an affordable housing crisis.

 

CHPC’s Research on Basement Apartment Conversions

For years, CHPC has been a leader in research and advocacy on basement conversions in New York City. In 2016, CHPC’s Hidden Housing study found between 10,000 and 38,000 potential basement apartments citywide that could be brought into safe, legal use without changing the Zoning Resolution. Hidden Housing and CHPC’s Basement Conversions Regulatory Checklist directly informed legislation passed by the New York City Council in 2018, creating the Basement Apartment Conversions Pilot Program (BACPP). In 2019, CHPC hosted a half-day symposium called Housing Innovation Lab: Basements to explore best practices and new technology to improve safety and habitability in basement apartments. CHPC is currently partnering with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development to evaluate the ongoing BACPP and its potential to be scaled citywide.

 

Explore related CHPC information below

Basements Almanac

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Hidden Housing: The Case for A Conversion Program for Basement Apartments in NYC

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Basement Apartment Regulatory Checklist

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Testimony in Support of Basement Conversion Pilot Program

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Hidden Housing Interactive Map

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Housing Innovation Lab: Basements

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All About Basements! Study Launch

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Testimony in Support of Basement Conversion Pilot Program

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HPD RFEI

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