Hotels in New York City that have been left empty by the pandemic would be converted into “supportive housing” that provides a wide range of assistance to people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse and to people leaving the prison system, under a plan proposed on Monday by Eric Adams, who is likely to be the city’s next mayor.
More than 20 percent of the city’s hotels are now closed, a trade association says. At the same time, the city faces a homelessness crisis, growing sentiment against warehousing homeless people in barracks like shelters and a lot of severely mentally ill people living in the streets.
“The combination of Covid-19, the economic downturn and the problems we’re having with housing is presenting us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Adams, who won the Democratic primary for mayor in June, said as he stood outside a boarded-up hotel in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. “Use these hotels not to be an eyesore, but a place where people can lay their eyes on good, affordable, quality housing.”
Details of the plan were thin. Adams mentioned the possibility of 25,000 converted hotel rooms, but he said that he would focus on boroughs outside Manhattan, where the number of rooms in closed hotels is much smaller than that.
Several advocates for homeless people and for supportive housing endorsed Adams’s plan and stood with him at the news conference. “Adams can be the mayor who uses this inflection moment to change the trajectory on homelessness,” Laura Mascuch, executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York, said in an interview. “We look forward to working with Adams to implement the strongest supportive housing program in the nation.”