Basement Apartment Conversion Pilot Program

Administered by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, in partnership with Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, a local non-profit, the Basement Apartment Conversion Pilot Program (BACPP) (the "pilot program" or "program”) provides eligible low- to middle-income homeowners living in one- to three-family homes in East New York and Cypress Hills, Brooklyn (Community District 5) with low or no-interest, or possible forgivable, loans to convert their basement or cellar into a safe, legal, and rentable apartment, based on altered building code legislation passed in February 2019, Intro. 1004. The homeowner is also provided with technical assistance needed to close on a loan and complete the construction project.

This pilot program will help to create safe housing for tenants or occupants, while providing homeowners an opportunity to earn rental income.

For information on loan terms and the program, see the BACPP term sheet.

Pilot Program Eligibility

To be eligible for the program, a homeowner must:

  • Own a one-, two-, or three- unit home in East New York or Cypress Hills (Brooklyn Community District 5)
  • Occupy the home as their primary residence. Primary residency is defined as residing in the home 270 days a year.
  • Homeowners are eligible based on their gross household income and size, outlined below. In order to determine if a homeowner might be eligible, locate the household size in Column 1 (how many people live in the home) in the chart below and review the corresponding income in Column 2. A household’s gross household income cannot be more than 165% Area Median Income (AMI) or the dollar amount shown below in Column 2:

Column 1

Family Size

Column 2

165% AMI

1 $120,615
2 $137,775
3 $154,935
4 $172,095
5 $185,955
6 $199,650
7 $213,510
8 $227,205

  • Comply with zoning requirements for one-, two-, or three-unit homes.
  • Homes in the gray shaded area on the map may qualify for the program if all eligibility criteria are met. Homes in the blue shaded area on the map do not qualify for a basement or cellar conversion since they are in an area subject to future flood risk.
    • The program will determine if the home complies with zoning or is subject to future flood risk.

Process

Eligible homeowners are provided with financial assistance in the form of a loan to convert their basement or cellar into a safe, livable apartment by providing low - or no-interest loans, with a maximum loan amount of $120,000, and the technical assistance necessary for completing a construction project.

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will provide the technical assistance by managing and navigating the pre-development and construction process on behalf of the homeowner to convert the basement or cellar into an apartment and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from the NYC Department of Buildings. Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will also guide the homeowner through the process of applying and obtaining the loan.

The pilot program will utilize modifications to the NYC Building Code standards for a one unit home converting to a two unit home, since a basement or cellar converting into an apartment is an increase in units. The code modifications will help to make it more financially feasible to convert a basement or cellar into an apartment, while upholding the highest health and safety standards for the occupants of these apartments. 

The Multiple Dwelling Law has jurisdiction over an existing two-unit home converting to a three-unit home or an existing three-unit home converting to a four-unit home, as a result of a basement or cellar converting into an apartment. The program will also provide low or no-interest, or possibly forgivable, loans to homeowners who fall under the Multiple Dwelling Law jurisdiction.

How to Participate

This is a time and space limited program. Participation is based on eligibility and cannot be guaranteed. Homeowners will be selected based on program eligibility and the viability of a basement or cellar conversion into a livable, safe apartment. Homeowners who are interested in participating in this pilot program are encouraged to express interest by April 30, 2019 using one of the options in Step 1 below.

Step 1: Express Interest

Homeowners can express interest in participating in BACPP by using one of the methods below:

Step 2: Outreach

Once a homeowner has expressed interest through one of the methods above, City staff will reach out to the homeowner directly to preliminarily assess eligibility and provide more information about the program. Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will subsequently reach out to the homeowner, if it’s been determined that they are preliminarily eligible.

Step 3: Pre-screening

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will contact the homeowner to conduct a pre-screening to confirm eligibility based on primary residency, ownership and income and viability of a basement or cellar conversion.

Step 4: Home Assessment

Once homeowners have passed the pre-screening, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will conduct a home assessment that requires access to the basement or cellar to preliminarily determine the physical and financial viability of converting a basement and cellar into a safe apartment.

Step 5: Application and Intake

If the homeowner is identified as a viable candidate for a basement or cellar conversion based on the home assessment, they will be sent a Selection Letter and invited to fill out an application by a specified deadline.

Step 6: Scope of Work and Architectural Plans (pre-development)

Once a completed application is received, a scope of work will be developed by Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation followed by architectural plans and all city agency approvals. A final construction cost will be obtained by the contractor to make a final determination on whether a basement or cellar can convert into an apartment. If it’s feasible to convert the basement or cellar into an apartment, then the project can be approved for a loan to start construction. The loan amount will be based on the final cost of construction. The program will ensure the loans terms are affordable for the homeowner.

Step 7: Closing

A closing will be scheduled to provide the loan to the homeowner and start construction. Depending on the scope of work, the construction project to obtain Certificate of Occupancy for the newly converted apartment can take up to 1 year, but can be less. Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will oversee and manage the conversion of the basement or cellar into an apartment for the duration of the construction.


Note: Homeowners who would like to convert their basement or cellar into an apartment but are located outside of Brooklyn's Community Disctict 5 can consult a design professional (i.e. architect or enginner). Visit the NYC Department of Buildings for more information.