LA hotel staff react to proposal to open up vacant rooms for homeless people

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  • A recently proposed ordinance in Los Angeles would require hotels to open up vacant rooms to homeless people.
  • Hotel workers spoke out for and against the proposal at a city council meeting on Friday.
  • The ordinance will appear on the ballots of Los Angeles voters in 2024, the council has decided.

Hospitality workers, some of whom have themselves experienced homelessness in recent years, shared their input Friday on a controversial ordinance that would require hotels in Los Angeles to rent vacant rooms to homeless people through a voucher program.

The proposed initiative, titled “Responsible Hotel Ordinance,” is backed by hotel workers‘ union Unite Here Local 11 and will appear on the ballots of Los Angeles voters in 2024, the Los Angeles Times reported for the first time.

At a city council meeting on Friday, hospitality workers and industry stakeholders voiced opinions for and against the proposal, with several noting that staff members are not properly trained to provide hospitality services. mental health and social needs to adequately meet the needs of unprotected people.

Thomas Franklin, an overnight listener at the Beverly Hills Marriott in West Los Angeles, said he himself was homeless a decade ago and described a “chaotic” experience living in a transitional housing program staffed with 24 hour security and staff.

“With all the drugs, all the fighting…we didn’t have the support to make it a successful program there,” he told board members on Friday. “Without having clearly defined support from policing and mental health, there’s no way I think this is something we should be able to do.”

An owner of the Hampton Inn Suites in Los Angeles reiterated those concerns, saying his employees are “absolutely scared and fearful not only for their lives and their safety, but also for the way we treat the homeless and the homeless. “.

“There has to be a more humane way to deal with this problem,” he continued. “My staff are here with me today…it’s no joke to them. If this passes they will look for other opportunities.”

Dixie Moore (R) talks to representatives from St Joseph Center homeless services who will help her transition from her tent camp along the Venice Beach boardwalk to short-term accommodation at a nearby hotel on July 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Dixie Moore (right) talks to representatives from St Joseph Center Homeless Services who will help her transition from her tent camp along the Venice Beach boardwalk to short-term accommodation at a hotel neighbor on July 2, 2021.

Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images


Carly Kirchen, a workers’ union organizer supporting the order, said hotel owners are perpetuating the ‘myth’ that ‘everyone who is homeless is so sick they are a danger to those around them. “, adding that thousands of Local 11 members are currently facing eviction.

“Even as a union member with a well-paying job, I was recently homeless due to the housing crisis in our city,” said Bambian Taft, a hotel minibar attendant and former employee of home.

Other speakers noted the lack of economic data and funding information in the proposed order. Richard Earle, an executive at hotel insurance company Petra RiskSolutions, said the proposal would prompt carriers to “legitimately withdraw cover”.

“It won’t be available because it changes the whole scope of the business,” he said, adding that coverage for hotels joining the initiative would be four to five times more expensive than their current rates. “It will be a direct destructive punitive impact on their business.”

The ordinance would also require hotels that are demolishing units to build new developments to replace destroyed units with affordable housing. Ronald Bermudez, who said he works as a bellhop at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, voiced his support for the initiative at Friday’s meeting.

“I’m a tenant near downtown,” he told council members. “It will become so difficult to stay in Los Angeles because of the high cost of rent. We must do everything we can to protect housing in our city.”

Are you a hotel employee struggling to afford accommodation? Contact this reporter from a non-work address at [email protected]

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