• New York Reverting to 19th Century Housing Standards, for the Poors!

    March 6, 2019

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: #99Percent, Economy

    Certain basement apartments in East New York (for you out-of-towners, that’s code for “da’ po’ parts o’ town”) will be able to become legal under a city pilot program intended to provide affordable form of housing.

    new law to authorize the pilot Basement Apartment Conversion Pilot Program (BACPP) was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday. The legislation creates a three-year initiative overseen by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development during which low- to middle-income homeowners in East New York and Cypress Hills can apply for low or no-interest loans to convert their basements and cellars into legal dwellings.

    Budding Fred Trumps, take note: homeowners outside of those crappy neighborhoods may also seek legalization on their own, albeit without city funding. The areas where the city plans to pay for the experiment with human beings living in basements previously considered uninhabitable are largely black and hispanic. East New York’s rate of violent crimes per capita is greater than the city as a whole, as is the incarceration rate. So the place has that going for it to attract tourism if this basement things doesn’t work out.

    The new law amends things like minimum ceiling heights, the requirement to have windows in all bedrooms, and some fire safety rules such as multiple ways to get out of the building. It is a real pain in the neck to have only one front window to escape through when the fire is in that room, you know.

    Converting basements into sweatshop look-a-likes is not cheap. The city will allocate $12 million to cover program staffing costs, implement, and manage the program, along with loan amounts for the construction of 40 homes. The maximum loan per homeowner is $120,000. So, math: about $7 million in administrative costs to fund less than $5 million in loans. And the loans will be low or no-interest, or “possibly forgivable” to help create new slum lords. Seems socialism-y enough for me!

    According to the city, it is all supposed to look like this, with bright colored graphics substituting for actual daylight:

    But the best part of all this is that the laws NYC is seeking to change to allow for these basement apartments were enacted in large part around the turn of the century to prevent the abuses of tenement housing shown, for example, in Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives — lack of light and air, no windows in bedrooms, etc.

    One of the reforms of the last time we barked about having a Progressive Era, the New York State Tenement House Act of 1901, was also one of the first laws to ban the construction of the dark, poorly ventilated apartments occupied then primarily by immigrants we did not care about. The law required new buildings to have among other things exterior windows in every room and ceilings of a minimal height. Indoor toilets were also mandated, and for now at least New York does not seem to be pulling back that part of the law. Do standby for the measles epidemic, last seen in these parts in the early 20th century, as anti-vaxx cosplayers seek to keep up with these new city standards.
    To claim to create affordable housing, New York is literally reverting to some of the 19th century standards it was shamed into fixing once upon a time. Those charting the course of capitalism, make a note of it!


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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Better yet, double the real estate tax on apartments in Manhattan over 2 million bucks and give free subway rides to New Yorkers so no one has to live in Manhattan.

      03/6/19 11:37 AM | Comment Link

    • chucknobomb said...


      Will Flood Insurance cover these Habitats with Global Warming? Kill AIPAC. Have a nice day!

      03/6/19 1:11 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Don’t be too fast to condemn this idea. I’ve seen sketches where a few of these basement hovel conversions have a rear atrium shaft attached on the outside reaching all the way to the roof. Any existing rooftop pigeon coop can be converted (for an additional $20K loan rider) to an aerie open loft residence with sublet privileges. Now THAT is capitalism making the poor have a chance to also become landlords! Ain’t Amerika great or what?

      03/6/19 2:20 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      You all realize I’m kidding about the atrium thingee. But Bauer, since you are obsessed with Trump being removed from power other than a regular election process just when is Herr Mueller going to release his report? You’ve been claiming, “Just wait” for months. Surely you have some idea when Trump will be brought down by the report.

      03/6/19 2:43 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      Your dementia is not improving. As I have stated here numerous times, Whether Trump or some other stooge of the Wall Street War Party is the Presidunce, nothing is going to change. If perchance someone got elected who wanted to cut the MIC and get our debt down to a level that doesn’t threaten our national security, that person would have as much chance as JFK.

      03/6/19 4:51 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      We know all that Bauer but it doesn’t explain your need to see someone like Trump destroyed. He’s just one in the long lineage of doofus POTUSes. 200 years from now- people will most likely respond to the names Trump, Hillary, Mueller, Cohen et al with, “Who were they?” None of the current “players” matter much in the long view. Not much will change in America. Empires do not self correct-if they could or would they wouldn’t have become empires in the first place. Baring a klaatu, barada, nikto visitation America might get lucky with a soft landing.

      03/7/19 10:16 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      We all need to see our elected officials held to a higher standard. If any Presidunce committed crimes, he should go to jail. You do recall I thought Hillarious should go to jail for her crimes. In fact, any official with blood on their hands who went along with the Iraq invasion should be on death row.

      03/7/19 11:46 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      It would make them think twice about invading Venezuela. Besides, we are running out of room on the National Mall for memorials to our collective stupidity.

      03/7/19 12:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Slum along with me

      Big Apple home values have gone up since the post-crisis low of November 2011, risen by 30 percent in the past seven years, at an average of nearly four percent per year.

      03/10/19 12:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Part of my childhood was spent on Chestnut Street in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. I couldnt imagine living in a renovated version of my grandparents’ basement — and those are pretty small basements. These are largely two-family homes already, with the majority of residents renting top or bottom floors out. It’s confusing whom would benefit.

      Cypress Hills was very dangerous then and still is. People need jobs to afford decent housing, regardless of who’s cramped basement they’d live in. This area has missed, so far, the revitalization that has swept much of Brooklyn. The city should be fostering job growth and hiring of local citizens; gearing this effort toward landlords isn’t really going to make a hill of beans’ difference. Even millenials would be hard-pressed to rent there and commute elsewhere; it’s such a crime-ridden area.

      03/15/19 3:00 PM | Comment Link

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