HONDA – A strong first step to turn vacant buildings into homes

HONDA converts failing hotels, businesses to permanently house homeless; More types of vacant and underused properties should be repurposed into homes

NEW YORK — In August, as a hard-won result of people’s organizing, the NY State Legislature passed HONDA (Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act), which converts vacant and failing hotels and office buildings into permanent affordable housing for homeless and poor New Yorkers.  This conversion of vacant commercial properties into much-needed housing is a great step in the direction of what can be accomplished when human need is prioritized over real estate lobbyists’ greed.

HONDA will convert vacant hotels and office buildings into permanent, rent stabilized affordable housing. At least 50% of units will be for homeless New Yorkers, and the rest will be for poor and working class people (up to 80% AMI).  Prior to the historic victory of HONDA, these vacant properties had been eyed by the Cuomo administration for conversion to luxury apartments.

“There are around 250,000 vacant apartments in New York City, while over 63,000 people are homeless.  Turning empty hotels and offices into permanent affordable housing is a great start to ending this crisis.  HONDA is proof that we can and must go even further to make sure everyone has a home,” said Cathy Rojas, socialist candidate for NYC Mayor with the Party for Socialism and Liberation.  “Citywide, 1 in 10 New York City public school students is homeless.  In Corona, Queens, where I teach high school history, 2 in 10 of my students are homeless.  It’s monstrous.  It’s unacceptable.”

Families with children currently make up more than two-thirds of the NYC shelter population, and the city spends between $3,000 – $10,000 per month, per household in homeless shelters.  The Rojas campaign believes that money would be better allocated to create permanent affordable housing and to make sure that every homeless or underhoused New Yorker can have a permanent home with dignity.

“Housing the homeless shouldn’t be a business venture.  Housing is a human right.  Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way—like the real estate developers who have happily filled the coffers of Eric Adams’ campaign, donating more to him than to the other top six Democratic primary candidates combined,” Rojas continued.  “HONDA is a major victory for the housing movement, and it was not handed to us.  The people came together and fought for this, and we know that we can and will continue to fight to end the warehousing of vacant luxury apartments and other properties, until everyone has a home.”

From the mothers who squatted a vacant house in Oakland, California, to nationwide efforts to turn unused properties into permanent affordable housing, the Rojas campaign stands in solidarity with working class people everywhere in the struggle for good-quality housing for all.  Especially given the erosion of protections under the eviction moratorium and its scheduled expiration in January 2022, the Rojas campaign calls for a full cancellation of rents and mortgages and the swift creation of more permanent, truly affordable housing.