By Angel Cortes Sanchez
On November 2, 2021, New Yorkers voted for the next Mayor of New York City. Affordable housing, despite not being a candidate for public office, was also on the ballot in the form of policy from the two leading Mayoral candidates: Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa. According to the Mayor’s Office, there are 424,949 units of affordable housing available to low income New Yorkers, while 942,000 families need affordable housing and aren’t able to afford rent. 50% of Black and Latino New Yorkers who are most affected by the affordable housing crisis are low income. Both Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa have made affordable housing a focal point in their campaigns.
Adams and Sliwa have both recognized the importance of affordable housing and the severity of the issue. One notable similarity between the two is the repurposing of vacant office spaces and hotels as affordable housing units. Adams wants to use vacant office spaces and hotels to convert to affordable housing units while Sliwa wants to use storefronts, as well as Hudson Yards to accomplish his goal. Housing cooperative manager and former candidate for New York City council District 9 Joshua Clennon adds that with both approaches “Repurposing buildings can add more than 100,000 more units of affordable housing and provide economic growth to a community.” Sliwa and Adams have both stated that their goal is to try to increase the number of affordable housing units throughout the city but butted heads on the issue at the recent debate.
On October 26, 2021, Sliwa and Adams made their last pitches to voters and were each critical of the other’s approach to affordable housing. Sliwa criticized Adams for “not wanting to use the vacant hotels in Manhattan and instead use vacant buildings in the outer boroughs.” Adams furiously called out Sliwa for “ not understanding the people,” meaning that Sliwa’s approach lacks community input from those seeking affordable housing and those who live in those communities where housing is to be built. He also defended his plan, “ As he believes that there would be more room for permanent housing in the outer boroughs.”
Despite their different political beliefs, both candidates have made affordable housing an important issue. Possibly in the future, we can see either candidate repurpose hotels into affordable housing. A collaboration between the two could involve repurposing some vacant buildings in Manhattan into shelters or for affordable housing. With Adams’ victory assured, let’s hope these plans can take action. □