From the NY Times:
The push for more flexibility is coming from elected officials, community groups and building industry professionals who say unauthorized units continue to flourish despite enforcement crackdowns because they meet pressing needs: they house lower-income tenants, they help homeowners pay mortgages and they accommodate some of the city’s growing population.
Relaxing the rules, though, can be a tough sell among neighbors who see illegal units as a drain on schools, hospitals, parking and other resources.
This year, legalization has made it onto the advocacy agenda of housing groups and the platform of the Democratic mayoral nominee, Bill de Blasio, who has singled out illegal basements and “granny flats” as possible additions to the city’s rent-regulated housing stock. Mr. de Blasio lived in a basement apartment in Astoria, Queens, in the 1980s but “can’t say for sure” whether it was legal, his campaign spokesman, Dan Levitan, said.
Buildings Department officials said they received 18,126 complaints about illegal units last year, and the Queens borough president, Helen M. Marshall, said she had not heard a lot of support for the legalization effort.
“What we do hear is complaints about excessive number of residents in illegal and unsafe dwellings, multiple electrical boxes that indicate the structure is not being used legally, excessive garbage buildup and the danger of fire,” Ms. Marshall said.