Jessica Katz, executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a nonprofit housing group, said Mrs. Velez was “caught in this web of all the regulations around basements.”

Ms. Katz has been trying to help Mrs. Velez find a solution, but she said her situation shows the need to ease city requirements for some homes and to offer financial support for legalization.

Mihir Zaveri for The New York Times
August 18, 2021