Garage Studios, Basement Apartments, and Backyard Cottages: HPD Announces Pilot Program Helping Homeowners Add New Small Homes Across NYC

November 21, 2023

Grandparents and Young Families Stand to Benefit from A New Program Creating In-Law Suites and Other Small Homes Without Significantly Changing Existing Neighborhoods 

New Program Gauges Interest in Adding Small Homes in Line with Goals of the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity Proposal to Build a Little More Housing In Every Neighborhood 

NEW YORK – New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Adolfo Carrion Jr. announced today the launch of a new pilot program to help homeowners add an additional small home to their properties as part of the Adams administration’s efforts to build a little more housing in every neighborhood. Now open to applicants, the “Plus One ADU” pilot program provides up to $395,000 in funding through HPD and $2.6 million in grant funding from New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) to qualified homeowners to build “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs, such as backyard cottages, garage studios, attached in-law suites, basement apartments, and attic space conversions. The pilot program aims to support working- and middle-class families, including seniors hoping to spend their retirement years in their chosen neighborhood, young parents in need of space for their in-laws, families with children returning from college, and homeowners looking for an extra source of income.    

“Every day, our administration finds new ways to make life a little easier for working-class New Yorkers and give them the tools they need to thrive in this city,” said Mayor Adams. “By paving the way for easier, more affordable accessory dwelling unit conversion, we are delivering a tangible win for families. Whether it’s for seniors who need space for a caregiver, a multigenerational household who want separate living spaces, or young parents with a little one on the way, an ADU can offer the flexibility families need to make New York City work for them. As a critical piece of our ‘City of Yes’ proposal to build a little more housing in every neighborhood, we are thrilled to welcome the launch of this pilot and see how ADUs can add the housing we need for families across the five boroughs.”    

“New York families need more space: for aging parents, for young adults, for caregivers and loved ones.  That's why we're getting rid of outdated rules that stop homeowners from updating their homes to meet their needs.” said Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development & Workforce. “Our City of Yes plan will deliver relief to middleclass homeowners across the City, and the ADU Plus One program is just a downpayment.”    

“Through Plus One ADU we’re sending a clear message that New York City is in favor of building new housing – quite literally – in our backyards,” said Adolfo Carrión Jr., Commissioner for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “This exciting new program provides a lifeline to New Yorkers – from the multi-generational family hoping to keep their loved ones close, to the older New Yorker looking to stay in a neighborhood they love. If we’re going to meet the moment and provide the housing New Yorkers need, we must say ‘yes’ to a little more housing everywhere – and that literally means everywhere.”    

“The ‘Plus One’ ADU pilot is a win-win for New York City, giving homeowners more flexibility and a financial boost while allowing seniors to age in place or helping younger generations live in their own space,” said Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick. “As we advance City of Yes for Housing Opportunity to tackle the city’s affordability crisis, it’s great programs like this that give us a head start and put us on the path to a fairer, more affordable city.”    

“This $2.6 million grant to New York City is part of Governor Hochul's comprehensive effort to grow our affordable housing supply by crafting community centered solutions to encourage low- and middle-income homeowners to create or upgrade good quality, safe Accessory Dwelling Units,” said NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “The City is a great partner in the production of affordable homes, whether they are in large, multifamily buildings or single family homes participating the the Plus One ADU program. We will continue to work together to alleviate the housing crisis that is a roadblock to healthy growth and housing choice for all New Yorkers.”    

Across the city, homeowners face challenges with rising costs and aging in place. City and state Regulations limit what New Yorkers can do with their own property, which can force families to move farther away from their loved ones or are forced into uncomfortably cramped houses. Meanwhile, spaces like garages, attics, basements, and backyards can go unused when small improvements could make them into comfortable homes. For seniors fighting to stay in their neighborhood on a fixed income, or young people stretching to afford a first home, adding an ADU to their property can be life changing. But under current rules, homeowners can’t always choose to alter their properties in this way.   

To combat New York City’s housing crisis, the Adams administration has proposed a set of citywide zoning changes as part of its historic City of Yes for Housing Opportunity plan led by the Department of City Planning (DCP). While the proposal advances through environmental review, HPD is continuing to find creative solutions within the city’s existing zoning and building codes, such as the Plus One ADU pilot program, to demonstrate the potential for ADUs to deliver cost-effective benefits to both homeowners and the city, and the ability to deliver these results without significantly changing the look and feel of a neighborhood.    

ADUs deliver enormous benefits to homeowners and renters across the country and is an exciting opportunity for creating more housing in New York City. Backyard cottages, garages and other existing spaces can add new homes and support homeowners without significantly changing a neighborhood’s character. ADUs can provide homeowners with a little extra income while creating new housing in the process – each unit representing a potential home for grandparents helping to raise their grandchildren, or for recent college graduates returning to start their careers in New York City.     

Through the initial pilot program, HPD aims to help up to 15 single-family homeowners build ADUs on their properties working in partnership with Restored Homes HDFC. Each new home must comply with existing zoning and building codes and other requirements, ensuring they are safe and fit within the existing neighborhood. Funding for the Plus One ADU pilot program includes $2.6 million in grant funding from the State of New York provided through HCR’s competitive request for proposal process. The City will match the State’s funding to provide financing of up to $395,000 for each homeowner.     

“With increasing demand in central Brooklyn, especially communities like Little Caribbean and PLG, my constituents have fewer options for affordable, accessible housing,” said Assemblymember Brian A. Cunningham. “This program provides significant investments for seniors to age in place gracefully and vital space for young families. I applaud Mayor Adams for pursuing forward-thinking housing initiatives in line with the neighborhood landscape.”   

“Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are a critical component of building more desperately needed affordable housing in New York,” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “Currently, my bill with Senator Kavanagh (A1075/S2276) would enable the legalization of certain ADUs in NYC, which will allow for better regulations to protect more tenants. I commend Mayor Adam's City of Yes initiative for their commitment to incorporating ADUs in their plan to increase housing in our city.”   

“To solve New York City’s housing crisis, we must use every tool available and think creatively,” said City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers. “ADUs allow homeowners to convert existing spaces on their property, like basements and garages, into new housing and they have a proven track record of success. This pilot program is an encouraging first step, and I hope we are able to quickly scale it.”    

“I'm excited about the launch of the Plus One ADU pilot and eager to learn how we can apply its eventual findings toward solving the NYC affordability crisis at scale,” said City Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “We need a multi-pronged approach to alleviating the financial strain afflicting everyday New Yorkers. This pilot is a step in the right direction.”    

“The ‘Plus One ADU’ pilot is a welcome and necessary program that will help both homeowners and tenants alike,” said City Council Member Sandy Nurse. “My district is home to the City's first and only basement conversion pilot and we have seen how important - and expensive - ADU production can be. With State resources and strong City Hall backing, we can streamline safe conversions and other ADU production to provide proof of concept while alleviating our housing crisis. No tool is too small, and I am eager to work with City and State partners to create broader policy solutions that will facilitate safer, more widespread conversions.”    

“I am cautiously optimistic about the possibility of trimming excessive regulations as the City of Yes endeavors to address this issue,” said City Council Member Kamillah M. Hanks. “I look forward to collaborating with the Mayor on ideas and solutions that both protect and enhance the prosperity of our unique Staten Island communities.”    

“We are proud to be a part of New York State’s Plus One ADU Program to expand the City’s inventory of quality, affordable housing by providing single-family homeowners with financial and technical assistance in developing an additional rental unit,” said Salvatore D’Avola, Executive Director of Restored Homes HDFC. “This pilot program will showcase a scalable and low-cost solution to address the City’s affordable housing crisis while providing supplemental income to low- and moderate-income homeowners. We are thankful to our partners at New York State Homes and Community Renewal and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development for providing the necessary funding and support in pursuing equitable housing opportunities for both homeowners and renters citywide.”    

“Every neighborhood in every community across our region must join the effort to provide safe, stable and affordable housing, and accessory dwelling units are critical to a successful regional strategy,” said Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County. “As a Plus One ADU partner currently advancing accessory apartment creation in Westchester County, we are excited to expand our efforts to New York City after the success of this important pilot program and passage of the City of Yes zoning changes. Unlocking housing opportunities across all five boroughs and financing low- to moderate-income homeowners are two important steps towards building a more equitable New York.”    

“We applaud the City for its continued efforts to find creative ways to support housing supply in lieu of legislative action from the state,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. “Allowing accessory dwelling units is a common sense approach that gives homeowners more flexibility to meet their households' evolving needs without changing the look and feel of their neighborhoods. ADUs can play a meaningful role in the housing supply puzzle by providing space for elders to age in place near family and within their community, for young adults just starting their careers, or affordable rentals that provide additional housing while stabilizing homeowners.”    

“As the City’s population continues to age, we must ensure safe and comfortable homes for older residents,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP New York. “Mayor Adams’ Plus One ADU pilot program will unlock the potential of underused spaces and offer a lifeline for older adults on fixed incomes or in need of family support. By transforming these spaces into comfortable homes, we are not only creating homes that meet the unique needs of our growing older adult population, but ensuring older adults can age in place in the communities they love.”    

“Adding a small unit to a small home is a big opportunity to diversify our housing supply and help owners of small homes get by,” said Howard Slatkin, Executive Director of the Citizen Housing & Planning Council. “Making this possible requires a two-pronged approach: relaxing zoning and other regulations to allow a unit to be added at low cost, and providing resources that give homeowners of modest means the ability to make these improvements. This can help meet diverse housing needs in lower-density environments, and support communities of color in particular. We welcome the launch of this pilot program, which can provide proof of concept that can be made more cost-effective and brought to scale with other reforms.”    

“Addressing the housing crisis requires a truly comprehensive set of solutions matched by resources,” said Baaba Halm, VP and Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “By providing financial support, the Plus One ADU pilot will help to realize 15 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which will not only be a benefit to those homeowners, but should provide a roadmap to how government resources matched with zoning reforms can help spur additional housing supply. We congratulate HPD and HCR on the launch of this pilot and look forward to working together to build momentum around ADU creation throughout the State.”    

“From recent grads to great grandparents, ADUs can keep New Yorkers in their communities by offering affordable living space right in our neighborhoods,” said Annemarie Gray, executive director of Open New York. “Additional rental income can also help families reach or retain the dream of owning a home. The Plus One ADU pilot is an important step to demonstrating for our City how nearly all of us can benefit from legalized ADUs.”   

“Accessory dwelling units are a convenient and non-disruptive way to unlock much-needed housing in our city, while also generating revenue for homeowners and making multigenerational housing more accessible,” said Tom Wright, President & CEO of Regional Plan Association. “The Plus One ADU pilot is a great project that can pave the way for a potential city-wide ADU program. We applaud HPD for taking this meaningful step forward and are excited to follow the results of this pilot program.”    

“The Plus One ADU Pilot Program is a positive step for New York City that will help provide momentum for the campaign to advance accessory dwelling units as part of the solution to New York City’s growing housing crisis,” said Thomas Yu, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. “Having helped many homeowners create new rental units, adding additional apartments to the city’s affordable housing stock, we know first-hand that prioritizing ADU creation can make a big impact, helping struggling homeowners and low-income renters alike.”    

“Increasing the availability of ADU housing is essential for the future affordability of our city. This program will empower homeowners, especially Black and brown New Yorkers who want to add safe and affordable rental units to their properties, to remain anchored in their communities despite today's constant waves of gentrification and speculation.” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “We applaud HPD for creating the Plus One ADU pilot program within working- and middle-class areas and advancing innovative solutions to support homeowners and renters alike.”    

“We commend HPD on this pilot program, which will show that a ADUs can help low-income homeowners remain in their homes, while providing more housing options to New York’s renters,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society. “We hope to see this program expanded through city and state action in the year to come.”    

“BASE is pleased to see resources made available to homeowners who wish to upgrade their basements into safe, legal, affordable homes through the Plus One ADU program,” said Sylvia Morse, BASE Coalition member and Policy Program Manager at Pratt Center for Community Development. “Basement apartments are a vital part of New York City's affordable housing stock, but city and state regulatory reforms and resources are needed to make upgrades to these homes at scale. We look forward to seeing this pilot program help demonstrate the need for a citywide basement legalization program.”    

“We welcome the launch of the Plus One ADU pilot program. In communities like East New York, unregulated basement apartments are a widespread but precarious source of income for homeowners and affordable housing for renters,” said Ryan Chavez, Director of Small Homes Programs at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. “Yet for too long public policy has failed to keep pace with this reality, leaving these homes in legal limbo. The Plus One ADU initiative is a positive step toward confronting this issue and establishing a citywide basement conversion program. We very much look forward to its success.” 

The Plus One ADU pilot program is now open for applications from qualified homeowners across the five boroughs. To find more information about the program and how to participate, visit the HPD website.    


  The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) promotes quality and affordability in the city's housing, and diversity and strength in the city’s neighborhoods - because every New Yorker deserves a safe, affordable place to live in a neighborhood they love. We maintain building and resident safety and health, create opportunities for New Yorkers through housing affordability, and engage New Yorkers to build and sustain neighborhood strength and diversity. HPD is entrusted with fulfilling these objectives through the goals and strategies of Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness, Mayor Adams’ comprehensive housing framework. To learn more about what we do, visit and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.