Impact of Illegal Conversion Law in Southern Brooklyn

Critics of the illegal home conversion law, which took effect Sept. 30, say the measure displaces tenants and fails to provide alternative housing options. Kings County Politics’ Kadia Goba looks at the potential effects of the legislation in southern Brooklyn where the rising number of Chinese residents has stirred tension in the area. According to the reporter, “Residents claim the recent influx of Chinese immigrants make up the bulk of tenants that occupy illegally converted homes.”

Council member Vincent Gentile, who represents the southern Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach, co-sponsored the bill in an effort to cut down on illegal home conversions in his district. The measure fines landlords who violate building ordinances and illegally convert living spaces to create “dwelling units above the amount legally allowed.”

Democratic District Leader Nancy Tong, who is the community relations director for Assemblymember Bill Colton of southern Brooklyn, said the legislation does not take into account the affordable housing crisis happening in the city.

“I have always believed that in order to combat illegal conversions, elected officials need to make it a priority to identify properties where affordable housing can be developed,” said Tong. “It is up to the city to support the use of these locations for the community’s greatest needs — and that is affordable housing.”

She added:

“If there was more affordable housing do you think those people would want to live there [in illegal conversion housing]?” said Tong. “Of course not.”

Gentile’s office stated that they are establishing an agreement with the city to help relocate displaced tenants. For more on this, as well as on the bill and the assistance currently offered to those residents, read the full story at Kings County Politics.

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