Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images
Due to the public health crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, New York City relocated thousands of homeless people to hotels, as an emergency measure to protect that population from the contagion of COVID-19.
Now, Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams wants to convert distressed or vacant hotels into supportive housing to address the affordable housing crisis and homelessness.
Adams detailed his plan at an event earlier in the week outside the closed Phoenix Hotel in Brooklyn, where he was joined by political leaders like State Senator Michael Gianaris, supportive housing providers and advocates for homeless New Yorkers. .
The current Brooklyn Borough President’s idea is to invest city capital funds to acquire and convert hotels, adapt city planning rules and building codes to speed up conversion projects, add on-site support services for homeless populations and adapt public safety plans for each new conversion project.
As expressed, the conversion of hotels can be done for approximately 60% of the cost of a new construction.
“The combination of hotel overdevelopment in the outer counties and the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to convert distressed and empty hotels into desperately needed affordable housing, and so we must act with quickly, ”Adams said. “By investing now and simplifying City rules to allow for these conversions, we can create tens of thousands of new serviced supportive housing units to get homeless New Yorkers off the street and take pressure off of our shelters and affordable housing ”.
For his part, Senator Gianaris recalled that New York has experienced an affordable housing crisis for decades, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic devastation.
“Converting dilapidated buildings is a good way to address the dual problem of distressed properties and a lack of affordable housing,” the legislator said.
New York State recently adopted the HONDA (Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity) Act, which set aside $ 100 million for hotel conversions. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Gianaris.
Several homeless advocacy organizations voiced support for the redevelopment plan, which they see as a promising step for thousands of homeless New Yorkers to have an environment they can call home.
“After working with homeless New Yorkers on the Upper West Side for the past year, we have seen the difference that decent housing makes in a person’s life. As the pandemic continues, there is no time to lose: the city must use all available tools to move these people to permanent housing where they can not only be safe from COVID, but also work, study, recover and rebuild their lives. ”Said Corinne Low, co-founder of UWS Open Hearts.
The hotel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic in the Big Apple, with some 200 hotels, out of the 705 in the city, which closed their doors permanently.