NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law Tuesday the expansion of the program that converts vacant hotels into affordable housing.

The new legislation expanded the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act (HONDA) program, which converts financially-distressed hotel rooms into affordable housing units. Hochul said that run-down hotels present a safety risk in their respective neighborhoods.

“These hotels need to be reimagined, and with the stroke of a pen, today, they will be,” Hochul said. “We’re going to make the rules more flexible, make it easier to convert underused properties into residential space, meaning someone’s home.”

HONDA funds New York’s purchase of financially-distressed hotels and commercial properties to create permanent affordable housing for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. The properties would then be operated by nonprofit housing providers. 

New York City currently has more than 50,000 people living in homeless shelters and several others who are at risk of being unhoused, according to state officials.