Hotels and the homeless – Los Angeles Business Journal

Ray Patel isn’t too happy about the Los Angeles City Council’s decision to put an ordinance before voters that would require the city’s hotels to provide unsold rooms to the homeless.

As the owner of the Welcome Inn in Eagle Rock, he hopes the electorate will overrule the measure.
“Whatever the intent, we don’t think this will provide a solution for the homeless community,” said Patel, who is president of the Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association.

The Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance will go to voters in the March 5, 2024 primary election.
While Mark Davis, chief executive of Sun Hill Properties Inc., owner of the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City hotel, was pleased with the board’s actions, he said his biggest concern is the health and safety of guests and employees if the measure passes. , because the hotel and its staff cannot control who gets the room and cannot know about the hygiene problems they may cause.

“While we have a heart for them, we don’t think this is the solution,” Davis said.
Peter Gillan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Hotel Association, was also pleased with the council’s decision to put the proposal before voters.

Hillan said the association sympathizes with the plight of the homeless and supports a number of solutions.
“However, we believe this issue needs more attention, and the board has also come to that conclusion,” Gillan added.

The council could have passed the proposed ordinance outright, but instead voted 12-0 on Aug. 5 to send the measure to a vote. The initiative is backed by Unite Here Local 11, the hospitality workers’ union, which gathered enough signatures to put it before voters. Association members would consider campaigning against the measure if it comes to that, Hillan said.

The action was in direct contrast to what the council did back in June when it passed an ordinance on workplace safety, workload, wages and retention measures for hotel workers that Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law on July 7.
Like the current ballot measure, the workplace safety initiative was supported by Unite Here, which gathered enough signatures to bring it to the voters.

However, in this case, the council decided to adopt the resolution directly. The resolution guarantees the safety of hotel workers and increases the minimum wage in other hotels of the city.

Vouchers

The newest ordinance, if approved by voters, would require hotels to accept vouchers from a homeless person to stay in an unused room for multiple nights.

“Vacant hotel rooms offer an underutilized opportunity to address homelessness,” the proposed law states. “This ordinance establishes a program under which the City’s Department of Housing will identify hotels with vacant rooms, refer homeless families and individuals to such hotels, and provide fair market housing payments.”
Patel’s great concern is the language of the initiative.

“Because of this, we don’t know who will be responsible if someone gets hurt. We don’t know who is responsible for damaging the numbers,” he added. It’s also unclear whether the voucher is for one night, multiple nights or an extended stay, Patel continued.

View of the lobby of the Hilton Universal City Hotel.

Also, unlike Project Roomkey, a federally funded program in which hoteliers voluntarily provide rooms to homeless people to stay in while they wait for permanent housing, the initiative does not provide guidance on social services to offer homeless people , such as mental health. or addiction help.

The Universal Hilton is 98 percent full year-round, so its participation in the program is likely to be small, Davis said.

However, if passed, the ordinance would require any hotel in the city of Los Angeles to estimate how many unused rooms will be available for the homeless by 2 p.m.

“We have to be able to predict at two o’clock in the afternoon what it might look like, and frankly, that’s impossible,” Davis said.

He added that the hotel, which is adjacent to Universal Studios Hollywood and City Walk, is in high demand.
“Sometimes we have 30 to 40 people come in without a reservation,” Davis said. “A lot of people make plans at the end of their trips, or sometimes they just say, ‘Hey, let’s go to Universal today,’ and they’ll head that way.”

These examples make it difficult to predict how many rooms will be available at the end of the day, Davis continued.

“Unjustified burden”

The hotel association’s Gillan said the order included a number of processes that would create an “undue burden” on hotel owners and operators and their employees.

First, how can an asylum seeker get a hotel room? Another is how the price will be set to compensate hotels, given that pricing is based on seasonality and demand, he said.

Regarding vulnerable people who need social services, how they will be delivered and the issue of liability, Gillan added: “There was a lot that was not made clear to hoteliers,” he said.

Davis asked about what happens to a homeless person after the voucher is used and expires.
“It’s very concerning that the voucher system not only puts them in the domain next to minors and children who may have hygiene issues, but what happens after the voucher is completed?” he said.

“Who receives them and who transports them to the next house? Most of these homeless people have no transport, no way to get anywhere.”

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