Adams backs hotel conversion bill in Albany that could help solve NYC’s homelessness crisis

Mayor Eric Adams, the Hotel Trades Council (HTC), and members of City Council announced Sunday that they are pushing for underused or underdeveloped hotels to be converted into affordable housing.

Standing under the beaming sun in City Hall Park flanked, the mayor declared he is backing state legislation that, if passed, would allow for the conversion of hotels that Adams believes are not best serving the community.

If passed, the state bill could potentially serve as a catalyst toward solving the city’s homelessness crisis, paving the way for the creation of supportive housing offering the undomiciled a dignified place to live, with easy access to humanitarian aid.

This, the mayor states, is a cheaper and more viable option than tearing down old buildings and constructing new residences.

The mayor gives a thumbs up.Photo by Dean Moses

“Unlocking hotel conversions is not going after union hotels, it is going after those hotels that are creating a blight and that have created conditions in our communities that are used for so many illegal means and those that are closed,” Adams said. “It is about repurposing underused hotels and creating supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness. We are solving two problems that are facing our communities.”

The mayor stated that the bill will be heading to Albany where it will be voted upon. This comes after the mayor announced a $170 million investment to combat NYC’s homeless crisis and after he received harsh criticism for the litany of encampment removals across the city.

However, the prospect of transforming hotels into housing could very well be the light at the end of the tunnel many have been waiting for. Unrented hotels were infamously used to house the undomiciled during the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic and could very well serve as a springboard to this legislation.

The legislation and Adams’ support of hotel conversions garnered praise from several public figures in attendance, including Manhattan City Council Member Gale Brewer.

“Today this is your best press conference ever, Mr. Mayor, I want you to know that it is the one that’s going to actually create housing,” Brewer said.

Rich Maroko, president of the city’s Hotel Trades Council, called the bill a “common sense policy” that could address the housing crisis plaguing the Big Apple while also targeting hotels that no longer have economic value.

President of the HTC Rich Maroko. Photo by Dean Moses

“The hotel industry is overbuilt, and overbuilt with the wrong kind of hotel. It’s overbuilt with the kind of hotels that pay poverty wages, the kind of hotels that are a blight on their neighborhood, the kind of hotels that tarnish the image of the legitimate hospitality industry. And the second problem is that we have a desperate need for more affordable and assistive housing for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. In other words, we have too many of the wrong kind of a hotel, and not enough of the right kind of housing. And this bill will help address both of those problems by converting those types of hotels into the right kind of housing,” Maroko said.

When amNewYork Metro asked the mayor if he has any specific locations in mind to begin this initiative he simply responded: “Anywhere and everywhere these hotels are located.” 

Mayor Eric Adams urges Albany to pass a bill allowing unused hotels to be converted into housing. Photo by Dean Moses