“New York’s Housing Underground: A Refuge and Resource” calls for the legalization of basement units and other illegal accessory dwelling units to create more affordable housing opportunities. Pratt Center's analysis estimated there are upwards of 100,000 tenants citywide living in informal units in basements and cellars across the city, especially concentrated in the immigrant communities and communities of color in the eastern reaches of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Pratt Center and Chhaya CDC co-published the report to make the case that legalizing and regulating these housing units would make them safer to landlords, tenants, and communities, and can be done without neighborhoods being unduly burdened with overcrowded schools and services.


Project Status

Completed 2008


  • Policy
  • Research & Analysis



  • Publication