How do you make underground apartments safer? Many legislators and housing advocates say legalize them.

For New York City Council Member Darma Diaz, like so many others, an unsafe basement apartment once served as the only attainable option for housing. After many families living in illegal basement apartments suffered the brunt of the remnants of Hurricane Ida earlier this month, Diaz recalled her own experience living underground.

“I also have a serious concern for individuals that are living in basements because it’s an often-substandard living. In my younger years, when I was experiencing homelessness, I moved in with my sister temporarily into a basement apartment that had sewage backup,” Diaz told City & State. “You look back, and to think of all the families that endured what I endured long ago – this is 33 and a half years later. And still, the community that I’m in is suffering from this. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”

NY Department of Buildings staff inspects the house where people were killed when their basement apartment was flooded during Hurricane Ida. For New York City Council Member Darma Diaz, like so many others, an unsafe basement apartment once served as the only attainable option for housing. After many families […]

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