A potential city ordinance on Friday’s LA City Council agenda would require hotels and motels to offer up vacant rooms to help house people living on the streets of LA.
It’s called the Responsible Hotel Ordinance, but opponents say it’s an irresponsible way to do business.
“The initiative requires us to accept these vouchers,” said Ray Patel of the NELA Hotel Owners Association.
Patel is part of the Northeast LA Hotel Owners Association and owns the Welcome Inn at Eagle Rock.
He says the initiative on the table plays like the key to the project room during the COVID pandemic, but leaves out the services the city and county have provided to those housed.
“It’s a concern for us because we don’t have the resources to deal with any issues that might arise with the unprotected community that you see on the streets of Los Angeles. We don’t have security, staff trained, the cleaners are trained to deal with it, so we are concerned about their safety,” Patel said.
And yet, it is the cleaning women’s union that is pushing this initiative forward. Unite here local 11 says the purpose of this order could significantly improve the visible homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.
“We think there is a misunderstanding about who these people are who would get housing,” said Maria Hernandez of Unite Here Local 11.
Hernandez says the union was able to secure over $126,000 in signatures from Los Angeles voters to support this and thinks it’s a win-win situation for hotel owners who will still be paid for rooms that would be otherwise empty.
“It’s more of a problem for us,” said Isaias Garcia of the Golden Tower Motel.
He says he’s owned the Golden Tower Motel in Koreatown for 25 years and knows what can happen.
“They could destroy the rooms, tag them with graffiti,” he says, and it costs more to fix than the overnight rate. And he fears that the city of Los Angeles offers no security guarantees.
And there’s also an argument that the initiative disproportionately affects smaller mom-and-pop hotels and motels because their nightly prices are cheaper than the big chains.
The union behind it thinks the problem is more about helping the homelessness crisis.
“It depends, right? we’ll see what happens, but ultimately the voucher program would allow vacant hotel rooms to be used as housing,” Hernandez said.
If the council votes in favor of the initiative tomorrow, it becomes law in 30 days. Otherwise, it would go to voters in 2024.