Mayor Eric Adams, the Hospitality Trades Council (HTC) and City Council members announced on Sunday that they are pushing for underutilized or underdeveloped hotels to be converted into affordable housing.
Standing in the bright sunshine of the flanked City Hall Park, the mayor said he supports state legislation that, if passed, would allow the conversion of hotels that Adams says don’t better serve the community.
If passed, the state’s bill could potentially serve as a catalyst for solving the city’s homelessness crisis, paving the way for the creation of supportive housing that provides homeless people with a place dignified life, with easy access to humanitarian aid.
This, the mayor says, is a cheaper and more viable option than tearing down old buildings and building new residences.
“Unlocking hotel conversions is not going after unionized hotels, but the hotels that are creating a plague and have created conditions in our communities that are being used in so many illegal ways and those that are shut down,” Adams said. . “It’s about repurposing underutilized hotels and creating supportive housing for people who are homeless. We are solving two problems facing our communities.
The mayor said the bill will head to Albany where it will be voted on. It comes after the mayor announced a $170 million investment to tackle New York’s homelessness crisis and after receiving heavy criticism for the litany of encampment moves across the city.
However, the prospect of turning hotels into accommodations could very well be the light at the end of the tunnel that many have been waiting for. Unlet hotels have been infamous for housing the homeless during the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic and could very well serve as a springboard for this legislation.
The legislation and Adams’ support for hotel conversions drew praise from several public figures in attendance, including Manhattan City Councilman Gale Brewer.
“Today is your best press conference ever, Mr. Mayor, I want you to know this is the one that’s really going to create housing,” Brewer said.
Rich Maroko, chairman of the city’s Hospitality Trades Council, called the bill a “common sense policy” that could solve the housing crisis plaguing the Big Apple while also targeting hotels that don’t have more economic value.
“The hotel industry is overbuilt, and overbuilt with the wrong kind of hotel. It’s overbuilt with the kind of hotels that pay poverty wages, the kind of hotels that plague their neighborhoods, the kind hotels that tarnish the image of the legitimate hospitality industry. And the second problem is that we desperately need more affordable, serviced housing for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. In other words, we have too many bad types of hotels and not enough good types of accommodation. And this bill will help solve both of these problems by converting these types of hotels into suitable accommodations,” said Maroko.
When amNewYork Metro asked the mayor if he had any specific locations in mind to launch this initiative, he simply replied, “Anywhere and wherever these hotels are located.”