LA May Require Hotels to House the Homeless

Los Angeles voters will decide in 2024 if hotels in the city will be required to rent vacant rooms to the homeless population. The City Council on Friday approved the public vote after choosing not to bypass the move and enact the measure unilaterally.

The controversial measure is being pushed by the hospitality workers’ union Unite Here Local 11, and enough signatures had been collected to put it on the ballot in 19 months.

The council approved it with a 12-0 vote.

If it passes, hotels would be required to send vacancy information to the city by 2 p.m. every day. However, president of the Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association Ray Patel told “Fox & Friends” Sunday that this plan has a major design flaw.

At that point early in the afternoon, many guests have not checked into hotels. That would give inaccurate information to the city, leading to vouchers being issued to homeless residents that cannot be honored.

What is undoubtedly coming are 19 months of a legal battle between the hotel industry and homeless advocacy groups. It also comes as one of the signature programs of the city’s fight against the spread of COVID-19 draws to a close.

That effort was Project Roomkey. Large hotels were turned into makeshift shelters to address homelessness during the pandemic. Many of the program sites have already shut down, and more closings are pending.

The City Council hearing was filled mostly with opponents of the new push for the homeless to be housed in unfilled hotel rooms. Hotel owners and managers spoke out against the plan, saying it hurts their businesses and puts an unfair amount of the burden of homelessness on their shoulders.

A few hotel workers addressed the gathering in support of the proposal, while others spoke against it.

The L.A. Homeless Services Authority reports the city had over 66,000 homeless persons in 2020, 12% more than 2019. It is set to release new figures next month. The program has no source of funding currently, but funds must be secured by next summer to place it on the 2024 ballot.