Photo: inacioluc/Shutterstock

Empty NYC Hotels Could Soon Be Converted Into Affordable Housing

by Eben Diskin Jun 26, 2020

Thousands of hotel rooms are going unused due to the sharp decline in travel, and in New York City, officials are looking at turning those rooms into affordable housing.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a tremendous hit to our hotels because of the reduction in tourism, because of the lack of travel — and hopefully most of that will come back. But some of it may not,” Vicki Been, deputy mayor for housing and economic development in NYC, said during an economic roundtable. “So we’ve been looking hard at — are there hotels that we could acquire to turn into supportive housing rather than having to build from ground up? We’re looking both at, are there assets that we own that we can make available to affordable housing or other needs — and are there private market buildings that we could acquire to convert into affordable housing at a cheaper cost.”

Converting vacant hotels that won’t recover from the COVID-19 pandemic into housing could offer a cost-effective way to create large-scale affordable housing. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio aims to build and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026, and hotels could be a big part of that plan going forward.

Brenda Rosen, CEO of Breaking Ground, said hotels in Manhattan could be converted into single occupancy units for as little as $250,000 per unit, which would be half the cost of building a new structure from scratch.

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