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Meeks Reveals Draft Legislation to Help Homeowners Finance Safety Improvements to Basement Apartments; Requests Comments from Public

September 16, 2021

Washington, DC – Today, the Office of Congressman Gregory W. Meeks announced that it is soliciting feedback from interested parties on a discussion draft of legislation that would expand the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program (“Rehab Program”) to help homeowners that rent out their basements finance safety improvements of such dwellings, making them more habitable.

The discussion draft – dubbed the Habitable Housing Conversion Pilot Program Act of 2021 – follows the tragic deaths of 11 New Yorkers who drowned in their basement apartments when Hurricane Ida inundated the City.  Several of the basement dwellings did not meet local safety codes.

Currently, FHA’s Rehab Program provides mortgage insurance to a select list of home improvements like replacing roofs, enhancing accessibility for the disabled, and making energy conservation improvements.  Although elimination of health and safety hazards can be financed through the program, such financing is not clearly allowed for the purpose of making these improvements for a home’s basement rental unit.  The discussion draft expands FHA’s Rehab Program to cover financing of such improvements to basement rental units of owner-occupied homes.    

The discussion draft structures this new financing tool as a 5-year pilot program whereby FHA will examine the success and challenges with the pilot, and provide recommendations for reauthorization, reforms, or termination at the conclusion of the pilot.  

The discussion draft can be found HERE

Congressman Meeks invites interested parties to share their feedback by emailing by October 16, 2021.