Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, called for tens of thousands of shuttered hotel rooms to be turned into housing to ease the city’s housing insecurity.
Adams, speaking at a campaign event on Monday, said the city has a chance to reverse years of bad planning and convert hotels that have become eyesores. The Brooklyn borough president and former cop said he was looking to turn 25,000 rooms into housing, adding that the city should foot much of the bill.
“The combination of Covid-19, the economic downturn, and the problems we're having with housing is presenting us with a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Adams said in remarks outside of the Phoenix Hotel, a vacant property in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. “We can use this moment and find one solution to solve a multitude of problems.”
Adams echoed other recent initiatives to bolster housing security across the U.S. Earlier Monday, Bloomberg CityLab reported that the White House is launching a new national initiative, “House America,” to combat rising homelessness. In August, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would finance the purchase of distressed hotels and commercial office properties by nonprofits to convert them into affordable housing.
The need for such housing remains urgent in New York City, where more than 45,000 people were being housed in city shelters at last count, and thousands more are grappling with unsheltered homelessness.
The new state law would address, at best, a small slice of Adams’ target of 25,000 units. It sets aside $100 million to help finance building purchases, splitting units evenly between low-income households and people experiencing homelessness. But converting hotels is pricey in New York City. Manhattan hotels sold at a median price of $275,000 per unit in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data from PWC’s Manhattan Lodging Index. The 100-room Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City, a Queens neighborhood, sold for $384,000 a room in May.