New York’s “Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act” or HONDA, is a law passed last August 2021 that established a fund for the state to buy economically distressed hotels affected by a lack of tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The properties would be converted into affordable housing for low-income residents and the homeless. (sunnysidepost.com, 2021)
State funds would be available to help non-profit organizations buy empty hotels and convert them to permanently affordable housing. According to the law, at least half of all units in a converted hotel must be set aside for homeless individuals and families. A full 100% of units in a converted hotel under the program must be used for affordable housing, with rent prices per unit available at an average of 50% of the area median income (AMI). (nixonpeabody.com, 2021)
Under HONDA, no zoning codes can be amended. Any conversion that is made needs to comply with zoning codes that already exist, and the conversion can only work if the hotel is located in a district that allows for residential use “as of right”, which excludes any hotel located in a manufacturing district. (rosenbergestis.com, 2021)
Moreover, all units in the converted hotels must have a bathroom and kitchen/kitchenette. However, most of the hotels available for conversion would need significant and costly renovations to make that happen, which is pricing a lot of potential investors out of the program. As of February 2022, only one applicant had applied for the program.