NYC deals with illegal basement apartment weather concerns

Local News

In September, Tropical Storm Ida devastated New York even though the city had done a lot since Superstorm Sandy to improve infrastructure and resiliency.

As a nor’easter drenched the region Monday into Tuesday, many in basement apartments shared their concerns about safety. Several residents of basement apartments drowned during Ida.

Hollis, Queens resident Ragendra Shivprasad barely got any sleep last night as she watched ands waited to see if rain water would rush into her basement.

Mayoral candidates Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa shared their takes on the issue of basement apartments at risk during inclement weather.

Adams, in the recent mayoral debate, called for a three-step forecast system warning residents and city agencies of the threat and a plan to more quickly warn those living in flood-prone basement apartments, particularly illegal cellar apartments without ample exits.

Sliwa called for building seawalls to prevent against coastal flooding as seen after Superstorm Sandy nearly a decade ago, along with better cleaning of drains and basins.

He would not evict tenants from basement apartments, but said he wants landlords to fix them up or face fines. 

Adams would not evict them either. He would want to work with the Department of Buildings and FDNY to make the apartments safer.

“We have a housing crisis,” Adams said. “We need to make those basement apartments safe.”

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