Governor Signs Hotel Conversion Bill to Create More Opportunities for Permanent Housing

Governor Kathy Hochul signs the Hotel Conversion bill into law. Image Credit: (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

The new legislation allows hotels to house residents on a more permanent basis, specifically addressing the lack of available housing in New York City. On June 7, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law New York State Senate Bill S4937C. This affordable housing law allows hotels that are already authorized as Class B hotels to rent rooms for permanent residence purposes. State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz sponsored this bill.

Under New York State’s multiple dwelling law, multiple dwellings are classified as either Class A or Class B. Class A multiple dwellings are designed for permanent residence, such as apartment buildings. Class B multiple dwellings provide more temporary, transient housing, including dormitories, boarding houses, and most notably, hotels.

This bill will amend the prior multiple dwelling law, adding a new subdivision that allows hotels to be used as permanent housing without needing a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy. Only hotels that are already zoned for residential use or located 400 feet from a residential district will be eligible for conversion, to ensure that permanent residents have the resources they need.

The bill cites both the lack of housing stock in New York City and our thousands of empty hotel rooms in the wake of the COVID pandemic as reasons for converting hotel rooms into permanent housing. It also eliminates red tape during the conversion process, appointing the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to provide oversight. Without expensive land use review processes or extensive renovations, hotels will be able to keep costs down for affordable housing providers. The bill’s authors also anticipate a net increase in tax revenue as empty hotel spaces increase in occupancy.

After Governor Hochul signed the hotel conversion bill into law, the change became effective immediately.

In a press conference announcing the new law, Governor Hochul said, “An opportunity has arisen to use vacant hotels in a way that will lift people up and give them the dignity of a home.”

State Senator Kavanaugh stated, “Allowing conversion of underutilized hotel space into affordable permanent housing represents another critical step we are taking toward ending the crises of unaffordable housing, evictions, and homelessness that have gripped New York for far too long.”

Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, “This law creates an important and creative new tool to allow distressed hotel space to be converted to permanent housing in a city desperately lacking in enough supportive and affordable housing stock. The support that the legislation received from housing and labor advocates, Mayor Adams, and city and state representatives sent a strong message that the measure needed to be passed this session to meet New York City’s affordable housing crisis while at the same time alleviating the pressure on commercial real estate that was brought about by the pandemic.”

Mayor Eric Adams stated, , “When you are able to do that, to create permanent housing, it’s a win for taxpayers, it’s a win for the industry, and it’s a win for everyday New Yorkers looking for housing.”

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams released an official statement in support of the bill, stating, “Affordable housing is critical to building strong communities and this law is a major opportunity for New York City. Vacant and underutilized hotels should be leveraged to address the city’s housing crisis, and this new law can result in more affordable homes for New Yorkers.”

By: Cassidy Strong (Cassidy is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)



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