During a media roundtable last week, Borough President Donovan Richards acknowledged that many of the basement apartments that were flooded during the historic rainfall were illegally converted into residences.
“One of the reasons people in Queens, obviously, live in basements is because we are in an affordability crisis,” Richards said. “Basements play a key role in providing affordable housing, but also ensure that many of our senior citizens who may have retired can actually afford a mortgage.”
Richards noted he was a “basement baby” himself, and said his “basement apartment helped him get through college as well.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng said she “spent the first six years of her life in a basement in Queens.” She argued government can no longer afford to stall on upgrading the city's infrastructure.
“I have constituents who might not be experts on infrastructure or climate change, but they know that they've made complaints to different levels of government before,” said Meng, “and they know that some of their neighbors have needlessly died.”
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said he and his colleagues in Washington are working to pass the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill.
“We also are going to work hard to get any emergency spending bill over the finish line so that the areas that have been hit hard, like many parts of Queens, can continue to have the resources necessary to help build back stronger and more resilient,” he said.