Measure would tie homeless housing in Los Angeles to hotel development – ​​Daily News

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By ERIC HE | city ​​news service

LOS ANGELES — A proposal that would require hotels in Los Angeles to place homeless people in vacant hotel rooms and the city to consider its needs for affordable housing before approving new hotel developments will go before voters in 2024, it was announced on Friday.

The citizen-initiated petition, filed in June, garnered more than 126,000 signatures and was submitted to council. The council voted unanimously on Friday to place the ordinance on the March 2024 ballot rather than pass it immediately. The petition comes as Project Roomkey, a program created in response to the pandemic that has provided shelter to more than 10,000 homeless people over the past two years, is being phased out.

The ordinance will require a majority vote to pass. If it became law, the city’s housing department would pay hotels a fair rate to house each person after identifying hotels with vacant rooms. It would require hotels to report the number of vacant rooms to the city and prohibit them from denying accommodations to homeless people seeking accommodation under the program.

Maria Hernandez, director of communications for UNITE HERE Local 11 — a union representing more than 32,000 workers at Southern California hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers — said union members walked the streets to help collect signatures.

“We think this is a common sense issue, and housing is an issue that affects so many of our members every day,” Hernandez told the City News Service. “Unfortunately, it’s not talked about enough, especially people who are on the verge of homelessness or who have to live in homes with multiple people at once.”

According to the draft ordinance. This would include whether the proposed hotel would “unduly burden the demand for affordable housing and social services” in Los Angeles.

Hotel developments with 15 or more rooms that demolish or convert units for the project should replace them with the same number of affordable units near the site, according to the proposed order.

“I think it’s a holistic approach,” Hernandez told City News Service. “If you have less luxury hotel development, you have more housing. That means people don’t have to live super, far away or be on the edge of homelessness.

Hotel owners opposed to the measure filled council chambers on Friday, arguing the proposal would decimate the local hospitality industry by driving away staff and visitors.

Heather Rozman, executive director of the Los Angeles Hotel Association, told the board that hotel staff are not public safety providers and “shouldn’t be required to clean up behind the humanitarian crisis of the town”.

“The hospitality industry is here today because their livelihoods, their family businesses and in some cases their homes are at stake,” Rozman said. “Families and business travelers coming to Los Angeles want to know they will have affordable and safe accommodations when they arrive.

Rozman added that she fears insurance companies will raise premiums if the measure is passed. She said some major conference organizers are already considering pulling events out of Los Angeles.

Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, told the council: ‘Hotels didn’t cause the homelessness problem. Hotels are not the solution to homelessness.

Councilman Joe Buscaino called the initiative “a poorly conceived idea that doesn’t solve homelessness” and instead hurts tourism. He urged voters to reject the measure.

“Placing paying customers next to someone who is homeless shows a complete misunderstanding of the causes of homelessness, which often stem from mental illness and addiction,” Buscaino said in a statement.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, without taking a position on the measure, said special interest groups backing “any ridiculous policy proposal that can get enough Trader Joe buyers to sign a petition shouldn’t be the law of the city of Los Angeles, just because a petition qualifies.”

“I’m grateful that on this point we voted to put this issue before the voters where it belongs,” Krekorian said. “If the voters want to adopt it, so much the better. If they don’t, great.

In addition to passing the ordinance as written, the council could also have called a special election later this year that would have cost about $12 million. There should be a minimal cost to put it on the ballot in 2024.

Bambian Taft, who works as a minibar attendant at a hotel and helped secure signatures for the petition, said the order would mean a lot to her and her daughter.

“I wouldn’t have to pay $145 for a hotel room every night and try to figure out how my daughter and I are going to eat, shower and sleep,” Taft told the City News Service. “Right now, the struggle is real. You don’t have to be (mentally ill) or someone on the street to get through the struggle of homelessness. I just need a little help to help me and my daughter.

Taft was disheartened to hear so many hotel owners speak out against the proposal at the meeting. She thought they were portraying homeless people in a bad light.

“I was very disappointed with what they were saying – and how they made people feel,” Taft said. “Especially being homeless, it’s like they don’t want you. They don’t want you in hotels. It was just very disappointing.

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