I heard about accessory apartments while listening to WNYC the other day. What is an accessory apartment? Accessory apartments in Harlem might be the answer to affordable housing, senior assistance, and/or a source of added income for homeowners, etc.,. NYSOFA reports that an accessory apartment is created when a single-family home is modified to include a complete, private apartment, with its own entrance. A garage, a basement, or a section of the main part of the home might be converted to include the apartment, or a newly constructed apartment might be added onto the home. An older or younger person might convert part of her home into an apartment for use by another older or younger person; or, a younger individual or family member might convert part of their home into an apartment for use by an elderly parent or other relative.
Benefits for an older homeowner who modifies his/her home to include an accessory apartment include:
- The emotional security, companionship, and socialization opportunities from living close by to family members;
- A source of added income if the arrangement is for the apartment dweller to pay rent,
- Help with daily tasks, maintenance, and upkeep for the main part of the house if the arrangement is for the apartment dweller to perform these tasks in place of paying rent,
- The privacy of continuing to live in one’s own home,
- An option that reflects a major preference of older people to continue living in an age-integrated residential environment.
Benefits when a younger family member incorporates an accessory apartment for use by an elderly relative include:
- Privacy for both the family and the older person,
- Convenience for caregiving family members of living very near to their parent or older relative.
Benefits for an younger homeowner who modifies his/her home to include an accessory apartment include:
- Young singles or couples who need additional income to help pay their monthly mortgage payments
- Divorced individuals who prefer to remain living in their home but who need an added source of income for house payments, utility bills, and taxes
- Single working parents who can have tenants help with the maintenance of residences in good neighborhoods and who are available to provide babysitting or child-supervisory services while the parent is away.
An accessory apartment does not require licensure by the New York State Department of Health because it is the private home of an individual or couple. A resident may purchase all levels of services and care from community services agencies in the same way that people do who are living in traditional houses and apartments.