June 7, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Signs Landmark Law Unlocking Underutilized Hotel Space for Affordable Housing

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Governor Hochul Signs Landmark Law Unlocking Underutilized Hotel Space for Affordable Housing
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Legislation S.4937C/A.6262B Allows Class B Hotels Within Residential Zoning Districts or Within 400 Feet of Such Districts to Operate as Permanent Residential Spaces 

Bill Signing Follows Governor Hochul's Announcement of Historic $25 Billion Housing Plan in FY 2023 Budget

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed new legislation (S.4937C/A.6262B) to create more flexible rules for converting underutilized hotel space into permanent housing. Governor Hochul signed the bills with Senator Brian Kavanagh, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and housing and labor advocates.

"As New York's housing crisis continues to impact families, we're taking bold action, embracing innovative ideas and thinking outside the box to help ensure that New Yorkers can access safe, livable, and quality affordable housing," Governor Hochul said. "This new law allows us to tackle the affordability crisis head-on and convert empty, underutilized spaces into homes. I thank Assembly Member Cymbrowitz and Senator Kavanagh for sponsoring this bill and taking this step to ensure that New Yorkers have a place to call home."

"Converting underutilized hotel space into affordable housing will provide thousands of struggling New Yorkers an affordable home in locations that otherwise would have been inaccessible to them," said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. "Creative solutions like this provide equity in housing and help families who are experiencing homelessness or instability."

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State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, "Allowing conversion of underutilized hotel space into affordable permanent housing represents another critical step we are taking toward ending the crises of unaffordable housing, evictions, and homelessness that have gripped New York for far too long. I thank Assemblymember Steve Cymbrowitz for his partnership in getting this bill through the legislature, Governor Kathy Hochul for her strong leadership and her commitment to delivering on the promise of ensuring that everyone has access to an affordable place to live, Mayor Eric Adams for his advocacy and for the work his administration is prepared to do to convert hotels to homes, President Rich Maroko and the Hotel Trades Council for embracing this cause and always fighting for good jobs, Ted Houghton of Gateway Housing for his expertise and tireless work to get this done, and the many providers of affordable housing and advocates for housing, homes and services for homeless New Yorkers, and sensible land use policies that balance the need for housing and economic opportunity, who all played a critical role in enacting this legislation."

Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz said, "This law creates an important and creative new tool to allow distressed hotel space to be converted to permanent housing in a city desperately lacking in enough supportive and affordable housing stock.The support that the legislation received from housing and labor advocates, Mayor Adams, and city and state representatives sent a strong message that the measure needed to be passed this session to meet New York City's affordable housing crisis while at the same time alleviating the pressure on commercial real estate that was brought about by the pandemic."

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, "Today, we are saying yes to more of the affordable and supportive housing that New Yorkers need and deserve. This law cuts red tape and removes outdated rules so we can take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity. I want to thank my partners in the Legislature and at HTC for providing the support we needed to deliver this win for New Yorkers, as well as Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law."

The new law authorizes Class B hotels that are located in or within 400 feet of districts that permit residential use and meet certain criteria to use their existing certificates of occupancy to operate as permanent residential spaces. The new bill further allows such hotels to provide permanent housing if they enter into an agreement with the City or if they receive State financing, through the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA).

In her State of the State address, Governor Hochul announced a $25 billion, five-year Housing Plan that will create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes in urban and rural areas across New York including 10,000 homes with supportive services. As part of that announcement, the governor proposed easing hotel conversions to create more affordable housing. The governor has also secured an additional $100 million in HONDA funding to convert vacant commercial properties and distressed hotel properties across the state.

As New York's housing crisis continues to impact families, we're taking bold action, embracing innovative ideas and thinking outside the box to help ensure that New Yorkers can access safe, livable, and quality affordable housing.

Governor Kathy Hochul

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Hochul is tackling the housing crisis head-on with a $25 billion housing plan, and this hotel conversion legislation adds another tool to our toolbox as we work to increase affordable housing opportunities in New York City and provide stability through on-site supportive services to our most vulnerable residents. We thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law and we commend Assembly Member Cymbrowitz, Senator Kavanagh, members of the Legislature, and our partners in the local housing community for collaborating on this important measure that will create the type of safe, secure, and affordable housing that New Yorkers need."

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, "Affordable housing is critical to building strong communities and this law is a major opportunity for New York City. Vacant and underutilized hotels should be leveraged to address the city's housing crisis, and this new law can result in more affordable homes for New Yorkers. I thank Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Senator Kavanagh, Assembly Member Cymbrowitz, and members of the State Legislature for passing this legislation, and Governor Hochul for signing it into law."

President of the New York Hotel Trades Council Rich Maroko said, "Thanks to Governor Hochul, the state legislature, and the leadership of Mayor Adams we now have a smart, thoughtful program that can protect quality hotels that are key to the recovery of our tourism industry while converting failing hotel properties - that pay poverty wages and are a blight on neighborhoods - into much needed housing stock."

New York Housing Conference Executive Director Rachel Fee said, "The New York Housing Conference commends Governor Hochul and the NY State Legislature for passing legislation to that will help address our affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Allowing underutilized and financially distressed hotels to convert to residential housing will instantly provide safe and affordable housing for people living in shelters and on the street."

The Community Preservation Coporation CEO Rafael E. Cestero said, "Governor Hochul's housing plan provides a diversity of programs and an unprecedented level resources that will help strengthen and revitalize New York's housing stock and its communities. Creating a streamlined and viable process to transform underutilized hotels into affordable and supportive housing for our most vulnerable New Yorkers is an important step forward. We thank Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Cymbrowitz for sponsoring the bill, and the Mayor and Governor for their collaboration and support on this issue. We look forward to working together to help implement this historic Housing Plan to create a more affordable and equitable New York."

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New York Association for Affordable Housing Director of Policy James Lloyd said, "The Governor and the Legislature are cutting through 93-year-old red tape to deliver homes for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Today, they are demonstrating that the state can re-think antiquated regulations, originally passed when FDR was governor, to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis."

Enterprise Community Partners Vice-President and New York Market Leader Baaba Halm said, "The need to create more affordable, quality housing has never been more pronounced across our state. This bill's passage will create thousands of good new affordable homes, transforming the lives of housing-insecure and homeless New Yorkers AND revitalizing shuttered and empty hotel buildings into true community assets. We applaud Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, State Senator Kavanagh, and the many advocates who have been instrumental in getting this important legislation over the finish line."

Project Renewal CEO Eric Rosenbaum said, "This is a game changer! We congratulate Governor Hochul and her administration on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Nothing provides the chance to recover and renew like stable housing. We saw, from the moment we moved individuals from shelters to hotels at the height of the pandemic, the enormous potential in hotel conversions. Now, thanks to the governor, for many, that move will be permanent."

Comunilife, Inc. President and CEO Dr. Rosa Gil said, "The Hotel Conversion Bill is a critical milestone in creating the pathway for homeless New Yorkers to live in permanent housing with appropriate services and contribute in a positive manner to the community."

Citizens Housing & Planning Council Interim Executive Director Sarah Watson said, "We are incredibly grateful to the NYS legislature for approving so many bills to help the critical housing situation in NYC. The Hotel Conversions Bill is a vital piece of legislation that will facilitate the repurposing of unviable hotels into permanent, affordable housing for low income and formerly homeless New Yorkers. NYC needs every possible option in our toolkit to deal with our housing emergency and this legislation will play a crucial role toward that mission."

Gateway Housing President Ted Houghton said, "We must do all we can to address our city's housing shortage and end homelessness once and for all. This requires more than just money, it demands innovative measures to clear away outmoded regulations to achieve real world solutions. Thank you Governor Hochul, Senator Kavanagh and Assembly Member Cymbrowitz for your visionary leadership in shepherding this long-needed regulatory relief into law. Thank you to the broad coalition of homeless providers, housing experts, hotel union workers and New Yorkers experiencing homelessness for your tireless efforts to gain support for this legislation. And thank you, Mayor Adams and Speaker Adams, for your vigorous advocacy that showed us it is possible to think creatively in crisis and transform our city's empty hotels into permanent, affordable homes."

Regional Plan Association President and CEO Tom Wright said, "To successfully address New York City's affordable housing crisis and make safe and dignified homes attainable for all, we must pursue every available option, including conversions that will increase housing supply. RPA is pleased to support Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams, and Senator Kavanaugh's hotel conversion bill and we look forward to working with them to continue to tackle housing insecurity in the city and across the metropolitan region."

Supportive Housing Network of New York Interim Executive Director Maclain Berhaupt said, “Across the five boroughs, thousands of individuals are in desperate need of safe, affordable and supportive housing, and at the same time, thousands of hotel rooms are sitting vacant as a result of a pandemic-induced economic downturn. But putting the two together as a long-term solution has proved challenging. This commonsense legislation can make it easier to convert underutilized, distressed hotels into permanent housing, reducing blight and improving communities in the process. We thank all parties for coming together to agree on a workable solution that can help address the ongoing homelessness crisis.” 

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