NYC Loses Affordable SROs Due To Illegal Conversions

Illegal conversion of single room occupancy ('efficiency') apartments in NYC threaten one of the few remaining sources of private, affordable housing in the City. Housing advocates attempt to stem the tide, but it's rough going.
January 24, 2006, 8am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"As the city faces a serious shortage of low-cost housing for its own residents, building owners are turning existing units into hotel rooms, hostels and corporate housing for out-of-towners. The trend is most noticeable in Manhattan neighborhoods where the supply of low-cost units was already dwindling and the demand for tourist rooms has shot up."

In Chelsea and Clinton, Mr. Kalin of Housing Conservation Coordinators said his organization had found different types of illegal conversions: rent-regulated apartment buildings being run largely as hotels, rent-regulated apartments being used as short-term vacation rentals, residential apartments being chopped up into single rooms for European students, residential buildings being leased commercially for use as corporate housing.

He added: "It gets to the heart of a conversation we have all over the place when we try to defend affordable housing in our neighborhood. We think it's important to the identity of our neighborhood and the city to preserve diversity and preserve stability in some of the neighborhoods that make up New York, including those at the city's core. It may be a more efficient use of real estate to segregate people by income and segregate land by use, but I think it ignores the thread of community that people in our neighborhood and elsewhere find so valuable about living in New York."

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Published on Sunday, January 22, 2006 in The New York Times
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