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Stop Illegal Home Conversions in Brooklyn

This petition had 1,669 supporters

For over 20 years, illegal conversions have been taking place at an ever increasing rate across the five boroughs of New York, with some having deadly consequences. A wave of home conversions is quickly spreading throughout the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Fort Hamilton, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park, and others as well.

An illegal conversion is when a home, traditionally a one or two-family, is converted to a multi-family dwelling or Single Room Occupancy (SRO). Where a typical home usually has two or three bedrooms, illegally converted homes may have as many as 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a small kitchen per floor. More people reside there than what is deemed safe.

Illegal home conversions are:

• A Human Safety issue: Tenants and firefighters have died in illegal multi-dwelling house fires. Unexpected walls, barred-up windows, and locked interior doors can create severe fire hazards for firefighters, and can trap residents inside. Attached homes and the residents of those homes may also be at risk.

• A Quality of Life issue: Crime, overcrowding and sanitation become major challenges for a neighborhood's residents. Construction on homes without proper permits can be hazardous. Unapproved cellar excavations, usually to create more illegal living space, can undermine the foundation of a building and put all of its residents, and the attached building's residents at risk.

• A City Services issue: A rapid increase in population within a geographic area that is only zoned for one or two-family homes can overwhelm fire, police, and sanitation services, as well as overburden schools, electricity, water and sewage systems.

Many residents who reside in illegally converted homes are not aware of the dangerous situation in which they may be living. Additionally, our first responders should not be placed in unnecessary danger. As a first step, a task force of all relevant city agencies should be established to address the problem of existing illegally converted buildings and to stop future illegal conversions. With your support we can put an end to this dangerous practice and retain the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Thank you for your support.

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