Los Angeles City Council members will consider passing an initiative Friday that could force hotels to report vacancies and house homeless individuals in empty rooms.
Unite Here Local 11, a progressive union representing 32,000 hospitality workers in southern California and Arizona, reportedly gathered over 120,000 signatures for a proposed initiative ordinance that would require all hotels — luxury to family-owned — to house the city’s growing homeless population.
“It’ll help create an emergency solution for people that need housing immediately,” Maria Hernandez, communications director for the union, told FOX 11. “We have members that are on the edge of potentially becoming homeless people.”
Hernandez said the initiative would pick up where the Project Room Key initiative, which paid hotels to house homeless folks during the pandemic, left off.
The measure would force each hotel by 2 p.m. every day to report the number of available rooms at the hotel for that night.
Ray Patel, president of the Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association, called the initiative “crazy.”
Patel said the association’s members are worried about the initiative, noting security concerns for his customers and staff.
“When I rent a room, I want to make sure my staff is safe,” Patel told FOX 11. “I want to make sure my paying guests are safe.”
“And, most importantly, my neighbors are complimented and happy with my operation,” Patel added.
Patel said the initiative said hotel owners could face legal challenges if they refuse an individual seeking shelter at their business.
Mike Feuer, Los Angeles city attorney, told FOX 11 that the initiative consists of “a third-party sponsored ballot measure,” adding his office cannot comment on it before passage.
“I would ask the proponents what enforcement measures they are proposing,” Feuer said.
Homelessness in Los Angeles County increased by approximately 13% at the beginning of 2020, according to the last annual Point In Time Count. More than 66,000 transients in the county were experiencing homelessness, with over 41,000 in the city.
Earlier this year, the county conducted its first count since the pre-COVID era.
The Epoch Times reported that county officials were initially supposed to release the 2022 results last month. Still, the date was pushed back to “ensure safety of its volunteers,” according to a statement from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which provides resources for the county’s homeless population.
The agency said postponing the results “was the responsible thing to do” because “the accuracy of the data is of paramount importance.”
“We have to give [Housing and Urban Development] the time they need to validate the data,” Kristina Dixon, LAHSA’s acting co-executive director, said in a news release July 6. “Despite any frustration that may result from this delay, ensuring that the people of Los Angeles County and their elected representatives have accurate, validated data regarding the 2022 Point-In-Time Count is of the utmost importance to LAHSA.”
County officials said they expect to publish the results in September.
Council members will discuss the initiative Friday, where they could either send the initiative to the voters or move forward and approve the measure themselves.