Hochul signs law that unlocks New York’s underused hotel space for use as affordable housing

June 8, 2022

Governor Kathy Hochul signs hotel conversion bill; photo credit: Darren McGee–Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul today signed a long-awaited bill that will relax the current rules for converting underutilized hotels into permanent housing. The new legislation allows for Class B hotels within–or within 400 feet of–residentially-zoned districts to operate as permanent residences. It also allows hotels which meet those criteria to be used for permanent housing if they enter into an agreement with the city or receive State financing, through the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA).

Last summer, the state legislature passed the HONDA act, which funds the purchase and rehabilitation of “distressed commercial real estate for the purposes of maintaining or increasing affordable housing.” $100 million was made available to facilitate hotel to housing conversions in New York City, but because of the zoning restrictions and housing codes, none of the money has been put to use, as 6sqft previously reported.

Mayor Eric Adams and housing advocates called on Albany earlier this year to pass legislation to make it easier for the city to convert hotels into affordable housing. the new bill, which creates an exception to zoning rules requiring developers to undergo the city’s land use review process or complete major renovations for hotels to become housing, was introduced earlier this year by Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz and State Sen. Brian Kavanagh.

Hochul said in a statement, “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. 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.”

“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 This law cuts red tape and removes outdated rules so we can take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Adams said in response to the signing. “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.”

In her recent State of the State address, Hochul announced a $25 billion, five-year Housing Plan to create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes in urban and rural areas across New York including 10,000 homes with supportive services. The HONDA act and the new legislation were included as part of the plan.


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