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Boro leaders say no to basement apartments

By Alex Robinson

Community leaders were loud and clear about their concerns over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to look into legalizing basement apartments at Monday’s Borough Board meeting.

The city Housing Department Commissioner Vicki Been presented de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan to build 200,000 units to the meeting and faced a barrage of questions about the part of the plan concerning basement apartments.

“What is the status of the idea of legalizing illegal basement apartments as part of this plan?” City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) asked at the meeting. “I think the plan overall is terrific and ambitious, and I’m excited about it, but that aspect of it is something that would concern people in Queens very much.

Been said the administration has not committed to legalizing basement apartments and that the plan will only require the issue be considered.

“The plan commits us to take a look at that issue to see if there are any ways in which that kind of housing could be made safe and legal,” she said.

A number of community board chairpeople, whose boards passed resolutions against this aspect of the plan, sounded off about illegal basement apartments and probed Been about the administration’s plans concerning the issue.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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