The state wants to tackle the housing crisis

David Gilcrest’s organization recently purchased this historic hotel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It sat almost empty for years, falling into disrepair.

It is now in full transformation.

Project Find is transforming the Park 79 hotel into very affordable apartments for seniors.

“And it will be connected to integrated services directly in the building,” said executive director David Gilcrest. “It really reflects that you value people and architecture is all about dignity.”

Soon, other condemned hotels will also be transformed.

What do you want to know

  • The lack of affordable housing and the homelessness crisis in New York have been worsened due to the pandemic
  • Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed a new law that makes it easier to convert New York’s underutilized hotels into permanent housing
  • New law changes zoning and certificate of occupancy rules allowing faster and cheaper conversion of hotels to apartments

On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed new legislation that eases restrictions to allow underutilized hotel space to be converted into permanent housing. This is part of an effort to address the affordable housing shortage and homelessness crisis affecting many New Yorkers. Both of these issues have been compounded by the pandemic.

“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 New Yorkers can access affordable housing. safe, livable and of high quality,” Hochul said.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who sponsored the bill, says the city and state have already had the ability to turn hotels into shelters, which they did during the height of the pandemic. But this new law makes it much easier to turn them into housing by easing zoning restrictions and removing requirements to obtain new certificates of occupancy, a process that can take years and is much more expensive.

“We’ve done a lot of work this year to fund more permanent housing, but we also have a lot of rules and restrictions that make it difficult,” Kavanagh said. “This bill eliminates many of those and will make it much easier to convert hotels into permanent accommodation.”

Some experts say it’s too early to predict whether it will become a long-term success, but they welcome any strategy to keep people off the streets and in permanent homes.

“Tourism is back in the city. It doesn’t happen at the height of the pandemic, when everything has been shut down,” said Noah Kazis, a legal officer at NYU Furman Center. “Changes in the hotel industry, the requirement for a special permit may make existing hotels a bit more valuable than they were before. So I think there are a lot of questions about how much will be That said, it will unlock some projects that would not have been possible.

The Park 79 hotel will be completed at the end of July and will accommodate more than 70 seniors. This project started before the entry into force of the new law, so it took six years to get there. From now on, red tape and additional costs will be reduced with the signature of the governor’s pen.

“Affordable housing in New York is spectacular. We have waiting lists in our buildings that exceed seven years for some of the apartments, so anything that can unlock and untapped resources is a positive thing,” Gilcrest said.

Officials say at least 170 other hotels have been identified as suitable for conversion.

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