Hotel staff in Los Angeles react to the proposal to open vacant rooms for the homeless

  • A recently proposed ordinance in Los Angeles would require hotels to open up vacant rooms for homeless people.
  • Hotel workers spoke both for and against the proposal at a city council meeting Friday.
  • The ordinance will appear on the ballots of Los Angeles voters in 2024, the council decided.

Hotel workers, some of whom have become homeless themselves in recent years, shared their input Friday on a controversial ordinance that requires Los Angeles hotels to rent vacant rooms to homeless people through a voucher program.

The proposed initiative, titled the Responsible Hospitality Ordinance, is backed by the hospitality workers union Unite Here Local 11 and would appear on the ballots of Los Angeles voters in 2024, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

At a city council meeting Friday, hospitality workers and industry players voiced opinions for and against the proposal, with several noting that staff members are not properly trained to provide the mental health and social services needed to adequately address the needs of vulnerable individuals. .

Thomas Franklin, a night auditor at the Beverly Hills Marriott in West Los Angeles, said he himself was homeless a decade ago and described the “chaotic” experience living in a transitional housing program that had 24-hour security and staff on hand.

“With all the drugs, all the fighting … we didn’t have the support to make a successful program there,” he told council members Friday. “Without having clearly defined support from the police and mental health services, there’s no way I think that’s something we should be able to do.”

An owner of a Hampton Inn Suites in Los Angeles echoed those concerns, saying his employees are “absolutely terrified and afraid not only for their lives and safety, but for how we treat the homeless and unsheltered.”

“There has to be a more humane way to deal with this problem,” he continued. “My staff is here with me today … this is not a joke for them. If this passes, they will look for other opportunities.”

Dixie Moore (right) talks with representatives of the St. Joseph Homeless Center who will help her move from her tent encampment on the Venice Beach Boardwalk to short-term lodging at a nearby hotel on July 2, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Dixie Moore (right) talks with representatives of the St. Joseph Homeless Center who will help her move from her tent encampment on the Venice Beach boardwalk to short-term lodging at a nearby hotel on July 2, 2021.

Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images


Carly Kirchen, a labor union organizer supporting the ordinance, said hoteliers were perpetuating the “myth” that “any person experiencing homelessness is so sick that they are a danger to the people around them,” adding that thousands members of Local 11 are currently facing eviction.

“Even as a union member with a well-paying job, I was recently homeless because of the housing crisis in our city,” said Bambian Taft, a hotel minibar worker and former housekeeper.

Other speakers noted the lack of economic data and funding information in the proposed ordinance. Richard Earle, chief executive of hotel insurance provider Petra RiskSolutions, said the proposal would see carriers “legitimately withdraw cover”.

“It won’t be available because it changes the whole scope of the business,” he said, adding that coverage for hotels that adhere to the initiative will be four to five times more expensive than their current rates. “It will be a directly devastating punitive impact on their business.”

The ordinance also requires hotels that demolish housing to build new complexes to replace the demolished units with affordable housing. Ronald Bermudez, who said he works as a piper at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, voiced support for the initiative at Friday’s meeting.

“I’m a renter in the area near downtown,” he told council members. “It’s going to be so hard to stay in Los Angeles because of the high cost of rent. We must do everything we can to protect housing in our city.”

Are you a hotel worker struggling to afford housing? Contact this reporter from a non-work address at [email protected]

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