June 7, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Signs Landmark Law Unlocking Underutilized Hotel Space for Affordable Housing

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: 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 Hochul: "Yesterday, we signed a package of nation-leading laws to address how we want to protect New Yorkers... Today, we take a step toward protecting the dignity of New Yorkers, and deal with the shortage of affordable housing, because I deeply believe that housing is a human right."

Hochul: "As we envision the post-pandemic world, we have an opportunity to rethink everything from work life, education, telehealth services, all the way to housing. And with hotels hit so hard by the pandemic, many of them never reopened, an opportunity has arisen to use vacant hotels in a way that'll lift people up and give them yes, the dignity of a home."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul 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.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Morning, everyone. I'm very happy to be joined by my partners in government, starting with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Senator Brian Kavanagh, who's one of the bill sponsors, well every, seems like every bill we've signed has got your name on it, we did a great deal yesterday with Senator Brian Kavanagh. Rich Maroko, the President of the Hotel Trade Council, and Ted Houghton, the President of Gateway Housing, who's been a champion to lift people up and give them the dignity of a home for a long time.

I also want to recognize Steven Cymbrowitz, who's the Assemblymember who's the bill sponsor, who could not be joining us here today. Yesterday, we signed a package of nation-leading laws to address how we want to protect New Yorkers, the safety of New Yorkers. Today, we take a step toward protecting the dignity of New Yorkers, and deal with the shortage of affordable housing, because I deeply believe that housing is a human right. It's about dignity. It's about feeling valued. It's about having a home. And I know that everyone in this room is committed to recognizing and acting upon that enduring and guiding philosophy.

So I want to thank everyone who's been on this journey with us to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in our quest to find opportunities, to give people what they deserve, and that is a roof over their head. This shared fight, collective fight, is more urgent than ever before because New Yorkers are struggling so much.

They came through a pandemic. Life was turned upside down. Emotional stress, medical stress for many, loss of life, loss of friends, loss of income, and many just took financial hits that continue to this day. And on top of all that, the harsh realities of inflation, the cost of living going through the roof day after day, everything from gas to groceries, all of these are forces beyond their control, and it is just so frustrating for people.

It either has set them further back or robbed them of any gains they would have seen with a small increase in their paycheck. Simply put life has gotten harder, and harsher,and more costly, and the most expensive of all: housing. So we need to continue to find solutions to this age-old problem that has now been exacerbated.

And that's exactly what we're doing here today. As we envision the post-pandemic world, we have an opportunity to rethink everything from work life, education, telehealth services, all the way to housing. And with hotels hit so hard by the pandemic, many of them never reopened, an opportunity has arisen to use vacant hotels in a way that'll lift people up and give them yes, the dignity of a home.

And we found a way to do it creatively. The legislation that we're signing today will help create new affordable housing units. And I'm proud to sign a bill that allows, going forward, hotel rooms to be converted into permanent housing. And again, I want to thank Senator Kavanagh, who's with us here today and you'll hear from him in a couple of minutes, and Assemblymember Cymbrowitz. And no longer will these rooms sit vacant, you know, mocking as people sleep on a street in front of them, or struggle to find a home no longer, no longer. Because let me be clear, there are good hotels out there with good-paying jobs.

I stay in one almost every night in the City of New York. They are my friends, the hard workers, they're my support system, they're my allies. We need to support them, the good hotels, We need to make sure that there are plentiful hotels to support our tourism economy. The ecosystem of bringing New Yorkers here. Something the Mayor and I speak about often is reopening our city to others who have been away for two years.

I see it. I feel it. I walk the streets. They're crowded again. It's a good feeling because hotels are part of that ecosystem. And they're part of the unique New York City experience. It's part of our identity. We cherish that, we honor that and we want to preserve those hotels. And those jobs should be preserved.

There's also a large number of failing and problem hotels in our neighborhoods. They pay people low wages, they're run-down, and sometimes they present a safety risk in their neighborhoods. These hotels need to be reimagined. And with the stroke of a pentoday, they will be. We're going to make the rules more flexible, making it easier to convert underused properties into residential space, meaning someone's home.

And that's something I've been fighting for, increasing the stock of affordable housing, my entire career, back to when I was a town board member. I was fighting to bring affordable and supportive housing into my hometown at a time when others were fighting against it. I won those battles, but they were hard-fought.

There was resistance from people from communities who didn't understand that everyone deserves the right to live in a home. And since day one, my philosophy in office has been to do the same to use all the tools we have in state government and have a bold plan to increase affordable housing, access to it.

And it starts with what we just accomplished in our budget. First time ever, a historic $25 billion to create 100,000 new housing units, as well as on top of that, at least 1.5 billion for an additional 10,000 supportive housing units. Who are we supporting? We'resupporting our neighbors. People have been left on the streets who are homeless, people who have mental health challenges, people have addiction problems like many of our family members had or still have today, our returning veterans who come back with PTSD after they served our nation, they deserve a home. LGBTQ seniors who don'thave children to take care of them as they age. This is what supportive housing is all about. This is why I believe in the power of harnessing government spaces and the private sector together toward this cause.

We also allocated $100 million toward Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act, the HOND Act, and that's to convert commercial properties and distressed hotel properties across the state. But it's not just about building more, it's about helping people stay in their homes.

And that's why we had $900 million, $900 million for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program because the pandemic is not over for a lot of people. They got behind in their rent, and they're struggling. This is an albatross around their necks and they can't break free from it, so we're helping them get back on their feet.

Because the ERAP Program was not properly funded, we added more to it. A total of $1.5 billion to help people, plus money to help people who are not previously eligible, as well as $100 million in state-funded rental substitutes. And also, sometimes you need a lawyer. Lawyers are expensive.

We have an eviction prevention legal program, legal assistance program, that provides free legal assistance to low and moderate-income tenants who need help to help them avoid eviction. So, all these steps that we're taking, we're not done. In my State of the State address, I promised that we were going to have a new American Dream here in New York.

We call it the New York Dream and that dream lifts all people up. And part of lifting says, yes, you have dignity, you're a human being, you have value. And that's what we honor by signing this legislation today, to create the opportunity for people to feel part of the New York family with a roof over their head, safety, security, it's their right and we're going to make it happen.

So thank you very much. And with that, I'd like to introduce a great partner in government, someone who has been championing this initiative as well as many others to increase the opportunity for people to have access to affordable homes. And that's the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640

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