Why We Can’t House the Homeless
During the pandemic, New York State allocated $100 million to turn struggling New York City hotels into low-cost housing. What could be simpler? Hotels are already used to house people so converting a hotel to more longer-term housing ought to be much simpler and cheaper than building from scratch or converting a parking structure into housing. Nope.
Politico: “There are very few hotels that physically could be converted and comply with the requirements of today’s zoning and building code without substantial, expansive reconstruction, partial removal or demolition,” said James Colgate, a land use partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP who has advised clients on zoning issues including the conversions of hotels. “That would increase the costs greatly.”
For example, a building’s elevators, doorways, or rooms may be slightly short of the size required for a residential structure. Residential buildings are also required to have a certain amount of rear-yard space that a hotel may not have.
“You would literally have to be chopping off part of the building,” Rosen said.
…The legislation dictates that each unit include a kitchen or kitchenette with a full-sized refrigerator, cooktop and sink — something Rosen said made utilizing the program “simply too expensive.”
“This is the classic case of the perfect being the enemy of the possible,” said Mark Ginsberg, a partner at the firm Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, which has worked on hotel conversions.
Some advocates who pushed the creation of the program say those provisions were necessary to ensure it didn’t generate substandard housing.
Substandard housing compared to what? Living on the street? And get this person.
“We didn’t want a program that cut corners to make it more palatable to developers,” said Joseph Loonam, housing campaign coordinator for the progressive advocacy group VOCAL-NY. “We wanted a program that centered the needs of homeless New Yorkers, which is true high quality affordable housing where they can have full autonomy and dignity.”
Well, they got what they wanted, the program wasn’t palatable to developers as only one application has been received and none of the money spent. Thanks progressive advocacy group for centering the needs of homeless New Yorkers.