In an effort to address the city’s current homelessness crisis, Mayor Eric Adams stood with elected officials and union members in support of a plan that would clear streets and subways and place a number near record number of New Yorkers homeless in underutilized hotels.
The state bill, S.4937/A.6262, would make it easier for the city to use vacant hotels as affordable housing, which officials say could be quickly converted into apartments at a cost of two-thirds new constructions. The mayor joined members of the Hotel Trades Council in Manhattan on Sunday to call on Albany lawmakers to advance the bill, which was co-sponsored by State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and State Senator Brian Kavanagh.
“We’re facing a homelessness crisis and an affordable housing crisis,” Adams said. “By repurposing underutilized hotels, we can make affordable, permanent housing available to families, seniors, and any New Yorkers in need, including our homeless neighbors.”
The fund to do this is already available with $100 million from the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act, passed last year to pay for hotel-to-apartment conversions, officials said. There is also a possibility of an additional $5 billion for these projects that Adams has committed in his executive budget for capital funding to build more affordable housing, part of a $22 billion plan over 10 years to invest in additional housing.
“Good hotels create good jobs. They are responsible neighbors and enhance the reputation of the tourism industry by attracting more visitors,” said Rich Maroko, president of the New York Hotel Trades Council in a statement. “But failing hotels only provide poverty-level jobs, introduce crime to local communities, and tarnish the reputation of New York City’s tourism industry. Converting these hotels into much-needed housing is one way intelligent and effective way to help the city protect the safety of our neighbors, support the recovery of tourism and preserve good jobs.”
The mayor’s efforts to tackle homelessness in New York were in the spotlight last month when his administration passed a controversial program to remove homeless New Yorkers from street encampments. Homeless New Yorkers have told Gothamist in previous interviews that they prefer to sleep on the streets rather than in the city’s conventional homeless shelters due to safety concerns.
City Council President Adrienne Adams threw her support behind the legislation, saying the plan would be a useful tool in the fight to end homelessness.
“All New Yorkers deserve safe and stable housing, and we need to create more flexibility in our zoning and building codes to allow for the conversion of vacant hotels into the supportive and affordable housing they desperately need.” , she said in a statement.
According to the mayor, there is an expected number of 25,000 beds that could be available for these conversions. In February, the Coalition for the Homeless recorded nearly 50,000 New Yorkers staying in shelters, nearly a third of whom were children.
“Countless hotel operators see this as a win,” Adams said. “These are parts that are already built, so it’s a perfect solution to a multitude of problems.”