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New York May Miss the Window to Convert Hotels to Affordable Housing

Amid widespread hotel vacancies during the Covid-19 pandemic, California has acted faster and more aggressively to create new housing. 

In November, Breaking Ground began converting a former Jehovah’s Witnesses hotel in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, creating about 500 units, including 300 for the formerly homeless.

In November, Breaking Ground began converting a former Jehovah’s Witnesses hotel in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, creating about 500 units, including 300 for the formerly homeless.

Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

Hotel vacancies during the Covid-19 pandemic have created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to quickly expand affordable housing in some of America’s most expensive regions.

Lawmakers in California and New York have acted on the moment with new policies. But so far, New York is proposing to spend too little, and at too slow a pace, to seize the opportunity, advocates say. California, meanwhile, has taken a more aggressive approach that has already helped create about 6,000 new units of housing.