A new law meant to make it easier for under-used or vacant hotels to be converted into permanent, affordable housing was approved on Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul. 

The measure is part of a broader effort signaled by Hochul last month to expand affordable housing, especially in areas of the state that have seen a sharp rise in housing costs over the last year. 

"Simply put, life has gotten harder, and harsher, and more costly, and the most expensive of all: housing," Hochul said during a bill signing ceremony. "So we need to continue to find solutions to this age-old problem that has now been exacerbated."

The measure will authorize hotels that are located within 400 feet of districts that allow residential housing and meet existing criteria like certificates of occupancy to operate as permanent residential spaces. At the same time, the measure will allow hotels to provide permanent housing if they reach an agreement with New York City officials or receive state financing through the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act. 

Hochul's approval of the bill comes after she announced a five-year housing plan worth $25 billion in the state with the goal of creating 100,000 units of affordable housing in urban and rural areas. The move would also create 10,000 homes with supportive services. 

"As we envision the post-pandemic world, we have an opportunity to rethink everything from work life, education, telehealth services, all the way to housing," Hochul said. "And with hotels hit so hard by the pandemic, many of them never reopened, an opportunity has arisen to use vacant hotels in a way that'll lift people up and give them yes, the dignity of a home."