Amid Rising Homelessness, Turning Unloved Hotels Into Housing Can Be a Good Option

Amid Rising Homelessness, Turning Unloved Hotels Into Housing Can Be a Good Option
Cover Image Source: Manhattan | Getty Images | Gary Hershorn

A growing number of Americans are losing their homes amid America's worst housing crisis in years. As per a report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, around 653,000 people reported experiencing homelessness in January 2023, via CBS News. Homelessness, which has always been a problem in states like California and Washington, has been now rising in states like Arizona, Tennessee and Texas which were once considered more affordable. While homelessness has always been a matter of concern, it saw a massive surge amid inflation caused by the pandemic in 2020.

Pexels | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Americans are struggling with homelessness (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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According to another report by the National Housing Conference, the reason behind the rising housing crisis is the historic and enduring shortages of affordable housing. To combat these issues, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking at ways in which the staggering metrics for homelessness can be tamed. One way is by turning unloved hotels into much-needed affordable housing.

Recently, in Sydney, an investment firm, Pro-invest Group kicked off a $500 million equity raising of fund plans to convert older hotels and buildings into a $1 billion portfolio of co-living rental apartments. The group was backed by other offshore investors. The idea is to tap into a strong demand for affordable housing near major cities in the country. This tactic can be applied in many parts of the US.

America is also looking at ways to tackle the crisis. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said that he wants 3,000 condos and homes that were normally rented to Maui tourists to be converted into long-term housing facilities for close to 5,000 displaced wildfire survivors who are living in hotels more than six months after the August 8 wildfire that wiped out Lahaina. 

migrant carries his belongings | Getty Images |  Spencer Platt
Migrant carries his belongings | Getty Images | Spencer Platt

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The lack of stable housing has been a source of stress for many Americans since a long time and it has only worsened due to natural calamities and the pandemic. New York City is another place where the effort to transform hotels into housing is much needed. An initiative to convert a former hotel into permanent affordable housing under New York's New York’s Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA) was taken last year. 

In December of 2023, Slate Property Group and RiseBoro Community Partnership finally completed the acquisition of the former JFK Hilton Hotel at 144-02 135th Avenue in South Jamaica, Queens. The initiative has been taken to transform the hotel into 18 apartments for low-income and formerly homeless New Yorkers. According to reports, the construction will be completed in mere 21 months which is significantly faster than the 36 months, typically required for ground-up construction. The project has been named Baisley Pond Park Residences. 

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"Creativity is necessary to fill New York City’s need for affordable housing and with Baisley Pond Park Residences, all parties involved have met that challenge,” said Scott Short, CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnership. "We’re thrilled to be a part of the first successful hotel conversion in New York and look forward to taking another step in bringing affordability and access to the people of this city."



 

Co-living spaces are typically smaller units where tenants share some communal facilities in return for lower rents. Co-living space is not only a great way to combat homelessness but also promotes the idea of sustainable living.

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