Damage to property, property damage, environmental damage and social failures of extraordinary magnitude: Hurricane Ida killed at least 49 people in six states in the eastern U.S. In New Jersey alone, at least 25 people were killed, most of them after being trapped in their water-washed cars. At least 17 people in New York City, where floods paralyzed the subway system and trapped hundreds of passengers, killed at least 13 people, 11 of them in flooded basements. , Which, like other regions, is not prepared for the intensity of extreme climate change. The insurance industry, which has suffered costs of about $ 40 billion since the beginning of the year related to climate change, huge fires, winter storms, and urban development, estimates Ida damage at about 15 to 25 billion, not including uninsured infrastructure and property costs without flood damage coverage. 2. Viewing the Gallery Hurricane Ida (Reuters) according to a report by the website Curved.com, which illustrated the unwillingness of the authorities, at least 8 of the flood victims stayed in the basements of their homes, which were defined as the safest places to stay. In doing so, the deadly storm in New York revealed a widespread phenomenon in which underground spaces are being illegally converted into low-rent apartments. The New York real estate market is one of the most expensive in the world, and street-level living has become an easy solution for low-income residents, including families working in the catering and hotel industries. Many are characterized by safety issues such as the lack of an escape route, have over the years become an essential housing solution for many and a significant part of the city’s real estate landscape. But Ida turned this solution into a death trap. If in the past the main concern in this type of residence was fires or suffocation from carbon monoxide poisoning, then extreme weather events and floods as a result of floods now create a new kind of danger for the occupants of the basements. 2 View the gallery
The Pratt Center for Community Development estimates that there are more than 100,000 illegal basement apartments in New York, most of them in Queens. According to the regulations, the height of the ceilings of an apartment must be at least 2.3 meters, it must have a window and at least two escape openings, and it must have a smoke detector and an automatic fire extinguishing system. Bypassing these conditions turns the apartment into an unapproved basement for housing.
157 thousand complaints
A 2019 New York Times study found that eight of Queens’ counties are consistently ranked among the top ten places in the city with the most complaints about illegal apartment conversions. Between January 2011 and last Tuesday, New York City received more than 157,000 complaints about basement apartments being altered without approval. In some cases basement floors have been converted into residences without a permit and in other cases apartments have been split up to rent out to some tenants. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that at least half of the complaints were closed after city inspectors were unable to visit those apartments. In many cases, tenants or apartment owners do not report safety issues at all for fear of fines or foreclosure. In 2019, it was decided in New York to come up with an experimental plan to make these apartments legal. According to a report by the website Citilimites, $ 12 million was earmarked to fund the project in its first three years. However, extensive cuts in the city’s budget, made following the need to address the challenges of the Corona plague, actually buried the project: in the end, in 2020 only $ 91,000 was allocated for the experiment and its scope was reduced from 41 apartments to only nine.
The residents returned to the city
The tragedy that befell New York came amid the rapid recovery of the city’s rental market, a recovery that is a bitter news for housing seekers: The median rental price for a one-bedroom city in July was $ 2,810 compared to $ 2,500 at the peak of the plague, with rents higher than pre-plague in some areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn. New Yorkers who left the city during the plague began to return to it, according to a July census data, with more than 830,000 New York State households, most of them in New York City, falling behind in rent, with total debt estimated at more than $ 3.2 billion. Affordable housing and climate change, it seems, are becoming one of the most burning issues New York will have to deal with in the foreseeable future.