To The Editor:
Samaritan Village and the landlords of the Pan Am hotel have commenced installing a kitchen in each unit to comply with city law. In conjunction with this upgrade, there should be consideration to transform the hotel into permanent affordable housing units. As many of us New Yorkers know, there is a critical need for these housing units and this would be a viable solution which the City should examine forthwith. Many other cities have successfully converted old hotels into low income housing which have given residents a stable environment and the ability to integrate into the community.
Under hotel rules and regulation, Pan Am residents do not meet the transient requirement of residing in a hotel for less than 30 days. Most family’s length of stay is over six months at the facility. In addition, Samaritan Village has stated that they will apply for New York State Tier II status which would require the facility to be convertible to permanent housing. This is also a requirement under City Administrative code 21-124c. Currently, the City is paying nearly $4,000 per hotel room, per month. This extraordinarily high cost would be better used to convert hotel rooms to permanent affordable housing units.
The City’s commitment to build more affordable housing has seen little traction and will be many years down the road before implementation takes effect. Steven Banks during his long tenure in Legal Aid vehemently decried the warehousing of homeless families in hotels. He must urge the Mayor to begin converting these hotel shelters into permanent affordable housing units. We ask the Mayor and elected officials to support this change which would benefit the homeless families, the community and ultimately DHS.