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New York City May Pay You to Build a ‘Granny Flat’ in Your Backyard

To address the big problem of New York’s housing crisis, the city is trying something small: payments to homeowners to build apartments in their garages and attics.

On Tuesday, officials are announcing a program that would give 15 owners of single-family homes up to $400,000 each for such projects, which could include building detached units or retrofitting basements.

Recipients will be restricted by income — the ceiling for a family of four will be $232,980, with priority given to lower incomes — and those interested will be able to apply on the city’s website on Tuesday. Rents in the new apartments would also be capped, at around $2,600 for a one-bedroom apartment, for example.

Maria Torres-Springer, the city’s deputy mayor for housing, economic development and work force, acknowledged the effort was modest.

“We hope that it’s just the type of program that builds momentum, shows what’s possible and that demonstrates to New Yorkers how we can build housing in every neighborhood in the city,” she said in an interview.

Making it easier to build basements, cottages and other extra units has become an attractive way to encourage development in states and cities dealing with high housing costs.

Supporters say the model helps homeowners earn money and can be great for older people trying to find affordable places near their families, which is why the units are often called “granny flats.”

But complicated regulations make them costly to build and maintain in New York City — at least legally, said Howard Slatkin, executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Plenty of unregulated homes already exist illegally, in basements and cellars that can be so

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