Garages – A Hidden Housing Asset

Example of Garage Housing. Image Credit: Alexander Garvin.

Example of Garage Housing. Image Credit: Alexander Garvin.

Thousands of new affordable apartments can be created in a few months – maybe not 200,000, but more affordable apartments can be put on the market within one year than we have built in many years.

Indeed, thousands of new affordable apartments can be created in a few months – and without federal subsidies or public incentives of any kind!!

HOW? – No money needs to be spent to purchase property. No money needs to be spent to build a structural shell for the housing to occupy. No money needs to be spent on additional real estate taxes. No money needs to be spent on managing agents, superintendents, or service personnel. Thus, the break-even payment that needs to be collected from a tenant will be a tiny fraction of combined rent and subsidy currently spent on a single government-sponsored “affordable” apartment.

WHERE? – Within New York City’s 800,000 non-multiple dwellings (mostly privately-owned residences).

BY WHOM? – By existing property owners who can hire small, local contractors, manage the property themselves, and market their new unit through neighborhood media and notice boards, without paying brokers.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE? The state and city governments must to adjust regulations to allow as-of-right conversion of ground floor garages into residential apartments that do not have to comply with zoning or other superfluous regulations.

WILL THEY BE SAFE? Ground floor apartments do not need secondary means of egress or expensive fireproofing because you can walk right out to safety.

HOW QUICKLY CAN THEY COME ON LINE? – Once the laws have been adjusted, property owners will be able to adapt their garages for residential use in a matter of months.

Alexander Garvin is an Adjunct Professor of Urban Planning and Management at Yale University and is the President & CEO of AGA public Realm Strategists.

One thought on “Garages – A Hidden Housing Asset

  1. Professor Garvin is out of touch with the prevailing view shared by most civic organizations, and many residents in the City of New York. For years, we have worked for contextual rezoning of our neighborhoods to ensure the stability and character of our communities. Creating ground floor garage apartments and for that matter legalizing illegally converted basement apartments and other units as proposed by Mayor deBlasio and others, will meet with strong opposition from the people. We need more affordable housing in the City, however, the idea expressed in Professor Garvin’s article is not the solution, nor part of a solution.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.