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LA hotel staff reacts to suggestion to open empty rooms to homeless

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

Hotel employees who have experienced homelessness in recent years shared their views on the controversial ordinance on Friday.

The proposed initiative, titled the “Responsible Hotels Act,” is backed by the hospitality union Unite Here Local 11 and will be reflected in Los Angeles voters’ ballots in 2024, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

At a city council meeting on Friday, hotel workers and industry insiders voiced their opinions in favor of and against the proposal, with some criticizing the mentality necessary for staff to adequately attend to the needs of unprotected individuals. They said they were not properly trained to provide health and social services.

Thomas Franklin, a nighttime auditor at the Beverly Hills Marriott in West Los Angeles, said he himself was homeless 10 years ago and lived in a temporary housing program with 24-hour security and staff, which he described as “chaotic.” He talks about his experience.

“With all the drugs, all the fights…we didn’t have the support there to make the program successful,” he told council members on Friday. “Without the clear support from the police and mental services. , I don’t think this should be possible.”

The owner of a Hampton Inn Suites in Los Angeles said employees “fear not only for their lives and safety, but also for the way we treat the homeless and unprotected”, addressing these concerns. was repeated.

“We need a more humane way to handle this problem,” he continued. “My staff are with me today…this is no joke for them. If this passes, they will look for other opportunities.”

Dixie Moore (right) speaks with a representative of the St. Joseph Center Homeless Services, which is helping people move from tent camps along the Venice Beach Boardwalk to short-term housing at nearby hotels on July 2, 2021.

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

Carly Kirchen, an organizer of the trade union that supports the ordinance, said the hotel owners are trying to spread the “myth” that “everyone experiencing homelessness is very sick and dangerous to those around them.” Perpetuating it, he added that there are thousands of Local 11 members currently facing eviction.

Bambian Taft, a hotel minibar attendant and former housekeeper, said, “Even union members with well-paying jobs have recently become homeless due to the housing crisis in our city.

Other speakers noted the lack of economic data and financing information in the proposed regulations. Richard Earle, an executive at hotel insurer Petra Risk Solutions, said the proposal would force insurers to “legally withdraw insurance”.

“It wouldn’t be available because it would change the whole scope of business,” he said, adding that compensation for hotels adhering to the initiative would be four to five times the current rate. will have a direct destructive and punitive effect on

The ordinance also requires hotels to demolish housing to build new developments to replace demolished units with affordable housing. Ronald Bermudez, who said he works as a bellman at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, expressed his support for the initiative at a meeting on Friday.

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

Are you a hotel employee struggling to afford housing? Please contact this reporter from your non-work address (