- Albuquerque, New Mexico, plans to convert hotels and motels into permanent housing for at least 1,000 unhoused and lower-income individuals by 2025, according to plans unveiled during a meeting Tuesday night.
- The city intends to purchase a hotel by early 2023, so it can find a developer that can begin making the conversion by midyear, said Katie Simon, a spokesperson for the Albuquerque Department of Family and Community Services, in an email.
- The effort is part of the city’s goal to add at least 5,000 housing units beyond what the private housing market will provide by 2025. Albuquerque’s Housing Forward ABQ plan also calls for commercial office building-to-housing conversions and changes to zoning laws to allow accessory dwelling units and more multifamily housing and adjust parking requirements to promote greater housing density and more infill housing in certain areas.
Cities throughout the U.S. are altering their zoning laws as part of their efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing.
There also has been growing momentum to convert hotels into residential housing, with some positive results and one notable effort’s failure to date in New York City. Office buildings in city business districts that have not returned to pre-COVID-19 pandemic vibrancy are also being converted to housing.
To meet demand, Albuquerque needs between 13,000 and 28,000 additional housing units depending on the type of housing that is built for different incomes, the city projects. It is using $20 million the city council appropriated for affordable housing, plus federal and state funds, to implement the Housing Forward ABQ plan. The city says the budget is enough to cover at least two motel conversions.
Creating new housing through hotel conversions is quicker and more cost-effective than new construction, city documents from Tuesday’s meeting state. The presentation noted that past conversions had been successful in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and other cities. The apartments will be “basic but safe” and part of mixed-income communities, built through public-private partnerships and run by property management companies.
“We need new creative, innovative strategies to quickly and cost-effectively create more housing, and we believe converting motels and hotels into housing is one of those creative strategies,” said Lisa Huval, Albuquerque’s deputy director of housing, in an email.
City officials are also proposing a $5 million housing conversion fund that would use city, state and federal funding to convert at least 10 commercial or office buildings into housing, creating at least 1,000 new residential units by 2025, the city states on its website. It also plans to expand the workforce for home construction using city and state job training programs as a model for training construction workers. Also, with 63% of all housing in the city being single-family detached houses, officials want to reform its zoning laws to make it easier for developers to build diverse types of housing, the city stated.