Community alliances take actions to stop illegally converted housing

【非法改建屋系列報導三】民間組織廣建網絡 力圖阻止非法改建


Apart from real estate developers who invest in illegally converted houses for profit, many new immigrant home owners bought properties and also tried to illegally convert houses, due to lack of understanding of related New York laws. They received fines for that. Let’s take a look at our third report on illegally converted housing.

在布魯克林貝瑞吉(Bay Ridge)的這處房產,因為非法改建地下室,大門貼上了清空令。記者敲門,應聲開門的吳先生,就是房產的主人。

A clearance order is placed on the door of this property in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, due to an illegal conversion. Reporter knocked on the door. The property owner Mr Wu opened the door.

房產業主 吳先生:「要罰款,要上法庭,就是很麻煩。」

Property owner Mr Wu: “I need to pay the fine, and go to court. It’s very troublesome.”

吳先生來美30多年,一直靠開車養家,攢下錢來,買了這處房產。他有3名子女和兩位老人需要照顧。他改建地下室是想讓小孩子有地方玩, 老人住的寬敞一點,沒想到觸犯了法律。

Mr Wu has been in the US for over 30 years. He earned income through driving cabs. He saved money and bought this property. He needs to take care of three children and two his elderly grandparents. He converted the basement because he wanted to give his children a place to play and the elderly a more spacious room to live. He did not realize his actions violated the law.

房產業主 吳先生:「這裡的中國人,都想把地下室做成房間給別人住。因為一個月供個房子要幾千塊錢,要開支呀,小孩子讀書,根本划不來。」

Property Owner Mr Wu: “Chinese people here all want to convert basements into living rooms and rent the rooms to others. They need to pay a few thousand dollars mortgage every month. They have a lot of expenses. Children need to go to school. There’s simply not enough income to pay for all of these.”


Mr Wu said on this street, there are five properties investigated by the department of building after someone filed complaints. These buildings have been seized and the owners were fined.


Many real estates in Bay Ridge are valued over several million dollars. Recently, more and more illegally converted housing emerged. Local residents began to take actions.

Founder of Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance Bob Cassara: “We’re talking about illegal home conversions.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer: “You’re back.”

Founder of Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance Bob Cassara: “I am back.”

這位在紐約市主計長斯靜格舉辦的社區大會上提問的老人,就是卡薩拉(Bob Cassara)先生。現在斯靜格承諾, 會推動立法阻止非法改建房屋。老人家露出滿意笑容。

This old man Bob Cassara, raised questions at Comptroller Stringer’s city hall meeting. Now Stringer has promised he will push to pass legislation to prevent illegal converted housing. The old man showed a happy smile.


Cassara is an Italian descendant who has been living in Bay Ridge all his life. He founded the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance, in order to protect the architectural and cultural atmosphere of the community. His main concern now is illegally converted housing.

Founder of Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance Bob Cassara: “Why do people want to live in those areas? And why are those houses multi-million dollar houses? Because they’re maintaining the look of the neighborhood. And that’s what we want to maintain over here as well. So people are welcome here, but they gotta play by the same rules. If they’re not playing by the same rules, then they’re really not welcome in this community.”


Through the efforts of Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance and community residents, New York City government and state government have proposed new legislation bills, to severely punish owners of illegally converted housing.  They also call on more people to join their alliance via social media.

Member of Founder of Brooklyn Housing Preservation AllianceAnthony Ceretti: “What I have done is try to leverage social media to alert the community to go on 311, get a confirmation number after you call 311, report it as a illegal conversion or a suspicious legal conversion and then send an email to our community board. And our community board then will alert the Department of Buildings, the marshal’s office at the Department of Buildings.”

記者:非法改建的問題, 在不同族裔的新移民社區都有發生,不管業主知不知道法律,房屋局一旦接到舉報,就一定會處理。希望我們的系列報導,能給房產業主以及房客敲響警鐘。了解自己的權益,做出正確的選擇。

新唐人記者 安心 紐約報導

Reporter: Illegally converted housing has emerged in many new immigrants communities of various ethnic groups. Whether or not homeowners are aware of the laws, the department of building will take action once they receive a complaint. We hope our series of reports help homeowners and tenants, to understand the risk, and make the right decision in the best of their interest.

NTD, Salina Wang, New York


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