Among the many housing policy changes passed as part of the new state budget, a pilot program is being launched that would legalize basement and cellar apartments in select city neighborhoods.

Under the new law, qualified basements and cellars at homes in the city will become eligible for conversion to housing.

"So basements is something I've been working on for 15 or 20 years in this city," Manhattan Assemblyman Harvey Epstein told Rocco Vertuccio Sunday morning on NY1. "And we've seen so many New Yorkers die during floods. In Ida, 11 people died alone. It was really important to figure out a pathway to legalization."

Even in cases where a basement is currently occupied in an unlawful way, the new law would allow those units to be brought up to code and rented once again.

"It's a win for both the homeowners and the renters who are living there," Epstein said.

To start, the pilot program only applies to a small number of neighborhoods, including the northwest Bronx, upper Manhattan, the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, as well as portions of Brooklyn and Queens.

"Some people were very open to having legalization of basements in those neighborhoods," Epstein said. "Some neighborhoods were less excited and less interested in having them. So part of negotiation is figuring out what can get done, prove that it's successful and then trying to expand along the way."