The deaths sparked a conversation about the converging housing and climate crises in New York City. In a city that has the highest rents in the nation, many people occupy illegally converted basement apartments. These units have affordable rents, but can carry higher safety risks because they aren’t inspected or necessarily up to code.
While exact numbers are hard to pin down, studies estimate there are up to 200,000 illegal basement units across the city, often occupied by immigrants and low-income people.
A man who gave his name as John helps to clean a friend’s basement, Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Queens, New York. The area was flooded Wednesday as rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida sent the New York City area into a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) […]