Hotels to Homes: Non-profit converts NYC hotels into affordable housing

Monica Makes It Happen

DUMBO, Brooklyn — Could the answer to New York City’s affordable housing crisis be converting old hotels into new low income housing?

One local non-profit is doing that right now across the city.

Charlie Alvarez, 59, showed us around his Manhattan studio apartment, one that he loves. After a terrible accident, Alvarez lost his job became homeless. But with the help of a non-profit called Breaking Ground, Alvarez moved into an affordable apartment.

The building was originally home to the Prince George Hotel, now converted into affordable housing.

“Its kinda like it’s still a hotel but it’s your home,” said Alvarez. “It feels like a hotel but it’s residential but at the same time, it’s run like a hotel. They have a gym, washing machine, terrace, everything is in the building,” said Alvarez.

Brenda Rosen is Breaking Ground’s CEO. Rosen believes it’s not a huge architectural jump from a hotel room to a studio apartment.

“I think it will make a huge dent in our housing crisis,” said Rosen.

Rosen showed PIX11 News the latest project underway in Dumbo, 491 new affordable apartment units for homeless and low-income New Yorkers, set to open next year.

Breaking Ground has been converting old hotels to affordable housing for more than 30 years. They’ve worked on four hotels in Chelsea, the Flatiron district, Times Square and now Dumbo.

“COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to look at more hotels — frankly, in distress — in areas that make sense for the people we serve,” said Rosen.

Rosen adds that each converted building is strategically placed to help bring low income housing to neighborhoods that need it the most.

“It gives us the opportunity to have more mixed income neighborhoods. Dumbo is not a place you think for low income housing. To bring together all incomes, it only enhances the neighborhood,” she said.

Charlie Alvarez feels lucky to have a home he can afford.

“If anyone is struggling, take a look at me right now. There’s always hope,” said Alvarez.

Apartment availability is based a lottery system. If you want more info about these buildings or this organization, visit their website.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the number of units set to open.

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