Portland is grappling with a housing crisis that leaves thousands sleeping on the streets every night and downtown conditions that are causing corporate clients to cancel hotel reservations.
Facing similar problems, another West Coast city is considering an eye-opening solution: using empty hotel rooms as nighttime shelter.
A hugely controversial measure that would require Los Angeles County hotels to house homeless residents each night in unreserved rooms will appear on the November 2024 ballot.
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to send the measure to a ballot last week, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Opponents of the measure argue that hotels and motels are not trained to deal with behaviors induced by drugs, addiction and mental illness – and that could create easily explosive situations. Proponents respond that hoteliers have exaggerated the difficulty of housing people whose central problem is affording the rising cost of apartments in California.
LA’s homeless population is significantly larger than Portland’s. The last time Los Angeles County released numbers, in 2020, the county had 66,436 homeless people. Multnomah County’s latest tally was just a fraction of that: 5,228 people.
But the proportion of homeless residents is about the same: 0.6%.
Up and down the west coast. the big cities are feeling the worsening of the crisis and are struggling to find temporary solutions while waiting for the construction of social and assisted housing.
Which leads to the obvious question: If a southern city council that counts with the same pressure as Portland sends such a measure to the ballot, could Portland’s leaders follow suit?
Just last week, WW reported that Mayor Ted Wheeler will put an ordinance before his colleagues that would waive certain fees for developers who agree to turn offices into workforce housing.