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Most L.A. Residents Say City Should Not Prioritize Housing Homeless Individuals in Hotels

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ninety-eight percent of Los Angeles residents say homelessness in the city is a crisis or a major problem. Despite that, 86 percent say LA should not prioritize housing people experiencing homelessness in hotels, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. (AHLA) and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.

LA residents are set to vote in March 2024 on whether to require all local hotels to house unhoused individuals next to paying guests as part of a ballot initiative proposed by Unite Here, a labor union that represents LA-area hotel workers. The issue is headed to the ballot following a unanimous city council vote against the measure last year.

Large majorities of LA residents say housing homeless people in hotels next to paying guests would unfairly burden hotel staff (81 percent), devastate the city’s tourism industry (70 percent), and create an unsafe workspace for hotel staff (69 percent), according to the survey.

A Focal Point in Collective Bargaining Negotiations

Unite Here’s insistence on housing people experiencing homelessness in hotels next to paying guests has become a focal point in its collective bargaining negotiations with LA-area hotels, with the union demanding that hotels support the controversial practice.

The survey of 500 LA residents was conducted July 25 to 30, 2023. Other key findings include:

  • 71 percent say LA cannot afford to implement a policy that would allow people experiencing homelessness to check into any hotel with vacant rooms for a night and be side-by-side in elevators, hallways, and dining facilities with paying guests.
  • 66 percent say housing unhoused individuals in vacant hotel rooms alongside paying guests will lead to a sharp decline in hotel tax revenue and result in huge cuts to essential city services like public safety and education.
  • 59 percent would be less likely to visit a city and stay in one of its hotels if they knew the city required all hotels to house people experiencing homelessness next to paying guests.

“Undermining the safety and well-being of hotel employees is unfathomable, but that’s exactly what Unite Here is trying to do,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “Unite Here is fighting to fill all LA-area hotels with the same types of activities you see on Skid Row. If they succeed, they’ll jeopardize the safety of both hotel guests and workers, virtually destroy the city’s tourism industry, and cause massive job losses. Hotels are laser focused on employee safety and Unite Here should be too. That’s why we’re calling on Unite Here to drop its dangerous demand to turn hotels into homeless shelters—in LA or any other city where they might try it.”

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