AirTrain John F. Kennedy International Airport
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Airport Hotel in New York To Become Affordable Housing Complex

Is this a good idea?

Many media sources claim that an airport hotel in New York is to become an affordable housing complex — but although the last day that the hotel property itself is accepting reservations is Friday, October 27, 2023, no notice or warning has appeared at its official Internet web site at the time this article was written.

Airport Hotel in New York To Become Affordable Housing Complex

The Hilton New York JFK Airport will become the first hotel property to be converted to a residential property under a measure which is called the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act. This fund of the state of New York — or HONDA, as it is also known — is meant to spur affordable housing; but it had been stalled since 2021.

The conversion of the hotel property to a residential apartment complex comprising of 318 affordable units will cost approximately $150 million, which includes the purchase price of approximately $70 million — but the developers will reportedly receive $48 million from the $200 million Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act fund, as with additional subsidies from other agencies of the city and state.

The Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act mandates that greater than half of the units of any conversion under its program will be reserved for people experiencing homelessness; while the remaining apartments will be reserved for households with low incomes and moderate incomes.

The summary of what was known as Senate Bill S5257C from the 2021-2022 Legislative Session of the Senate of the state of New York “Enacts the ‘Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity act’ in order to provide a mechanism for the state to finance the acquisition of distressed hotels and commercial office properties by the appropriate nonprofit organizations for the purpose of maintaining or increasing affordable housing.” The idea became more popular as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic greatly impacted the tourism industry and resulted in the vacancy of tens of thousands of rooms in hotel properties.

Was the Hilton New York JFK Airport considered to be a distressed hotel property?

Final Boarding Call

In response to an initiative by a local union which garnered approximately 126,000 signatures, members of the City Council of Los Angeles unanimously voted on Friday, August 5, 2022 to ensure that a proposal — which will require hotel and motel properties in the city to use vacant rooms to house homeless people — will be on the ballot in March of 2024. Many readers of The Gate With Brian Cohen were opposed to — or indifferent — to this initiative.

Converting a hotel property near one of the busiest international airports in the world seems rather odd to me. Rates are not inexpensive at hotel properties near John F. Kennedy International Airport; but they certainly will not get cheaper with one fewer hotel property available.

As for the program itself, I am not completely convinced that it will help to solve the homeless problem.

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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