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Hotels Could Give Rooms To Homeless Under New City Proposal

A potential city ordinance on the LA City Council agenda Friday would require hotels and motels to offer up vacant rooms to help house people living on LA streets.

It’s called the Responsible Hotel Ordinance but opponents say it’s an irresponsible way to do business.

“The initiative mandates that we have to accept those vouchers,” said Ray Patel of the NELA Hotel Owners Association.

Patel is with the Northeast LA Hotel Owners Association and owns the Welcome Inn in Eagle Rock. 

He says the initiative on the table plays like project roomkey during the COVID pandemic, but leaves out the services the city and county provided for those being housed.

“It’s a concern to us because we don’t have the resources to deal with problems that might arise that come with the unsheltered community you see on the streets of Los Angeles. We don’t have security, trained staff, housekeepers are trained to deal with it so we’re concerned with their safety,” Patel said. 

And yet it’s the housekeeper’s union that’s pushing this initiative forward. Unite here local 11 says the point of this ordinance could drastically improve LA’s visible homeless crisis.

“We think there’s a misunderstanding of who these people are that would be getting housing,” said Maria Hernandez at Unite Here Local 11. 

Hernandez says the union was able to get more than $126,000 signatures from LA voters to support this and believes it to be a win-win for hotel owners who will still get paid for rooms that otherwise would be empty.

“It’s giving us more problems,” said Isaias Garcia of 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 that costs more to fix than the nightly room rate. And he worries the city of LA isn’t offering any guarantees for safety and security.

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 bigger chains. 

The union behind it believes the issue is more about helping the homeless crisis.

“That depends, right? we’ll see what happens but at the end of the day the voucher program would make it so vacant hotel rooms could be used for housing,” Hernandez said.  

If the council votes in favor of the initiative tomorrow, it becomes law in 30 days. If not, it would go to voters in 2024.


Source: NBC Los Angeles

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