Financially distressed office buildings and hotels are to be converted into affordable housing for homeless and impoverished New Yorkers under a bill being considered in the state Senate.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris who sponsored the bill said: “We have known for decades that there’s a massive affordable housing crunch, so this is something that’s been in need for forever. What we’re doing now is finding this huge stock of buildings that are in distressed condition right now, so it’s a smart way to tackle multiple problems.”
According to reports, New York’s homeless shelter population was 52,010, which is lower than it has been in years. The state imposed an eviction moratorium during the pandemic, but housing advocates have said that the city still faces an affordable housing crunch.
The state would use federal money allocated through Covid-19 relief or other federally funded programs to purchase distressed properties from owners willing to sell their properties to the state to allow for the construction and conversion of permanently affordable housing for people who are street homeless or living in shelters and for low-income residents.
The bill would mandate that only hotels with fewer than 150 units could be converted to affordable housing. It excludes hotels in most of Manhattan. Some of the converted properties would be operated by housing nonprofits and other organizations, according to the bill.
James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York said: “New York City will remain a global commercial hub by creating more dynamic central business districts through strengthened retail and small business sectors and producing much needed housing, including affordable units.”