MORE THAN SEVEN in 10 Americans would be deterred from booking a hotel room in Los Angeles if hotels there are forced to house homeless people next to paying guests, according to a recent poll by American Hotel & Lodging Association. The survey was released as the city of Los Angel considers a proposed ordinance that would require hotels to house homeless individuals alongside paying guests, a change opposed by AHLA and AAHOA.
Los Angeles residents will vote in March 2024 on the ballot initiative proposed by Unite Here, a labor union representing L.A.-area hotel workers. The AHLA study highlighted the significant impact such a policy would have on tourism and hotel occupancy in the city. However, if Unite Here’s ballot initiative passes, Los Angeles would be the first city in American history to require hotels to house homeless people alongside paying guests.
Concerns about safety
The Morning Consult survey, commissioned by AHLA, took place from Sept. 18 to 20, involving 2,203 U.S. adults nationwide. The topline results may have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.
The findings include:
- 71 percent are concerned about safety risks to hotel staff and guests due to the housing mandate.
- 72 percent of Americans would hesitate to book a hotel room in Los Angeles. For prior visitors, this figure jumps to 83 percent.
- 71 percent would be discouraged from leisure trips to L.A. Among past visitors, this figure rises to 80 percent.
- 70 percent of Americans would reconsider attending a business conference in Los Angeles. Among prior L.A. visitors, this figure rises to 79 percent.
- 71 percent worry about hotels reducing amenities or quality if the housing mandate is enforced.
- 70 percent express concerns about potential damage to hotel property.
- 75 percent believe the policy overlooks the root causes of homelessness, and 74 percent worry about inadequate focus on long-term housing solutions for homeless individuals.
Ballot withdrawal deadline: Dec. 8
According to L.A. regulations, Unite Here can retract the ballot initiative as long as it does so 88 days prior to the election or by Dec. 8. However, Unite Here has refrained from taking this step, AHLA said in the statement.
The organization’s leaders have emphasized the inclusion of housing for homeless individuals next to paying guests as a focal point in negotiations with L.A.-area hotels and have demanded hotel support for the practice.
Also, the Los Angeles City Council has not yet held a hearing regarding the economic impacts of the proposed policy. AHLA is urging the council to promptly conduct an economic impact hearing and pass a resolution in opposition to Unite Here’s ballot measure.
“Homelessness is a serious and complex problem that can only be addressed by professional social and health care workers with specialized training,” said Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO. “Unite Here’s insistence on forcing hotel workers and guests to deal with this issue is dangerous. If Unite Here succeeds in turning all L.A. hotels into homeless shelters, eventually there will be no hotels – and no hotel workers – left in the city.”
“Safety concerns will prevent workers from taking hotel jobs and drive tourists to other locations,” Rogers also said. “That’s a fact, and these poll results prove it. 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.”
A spreading issue
AAHOA has similar concerns about the proposed ordinance.
“We’re being very, very involved because whatever happens in L.A. could then expand up and down the West Coast and throughout California as well,” said Laura Lee Blake, AAHOA president and CEO. “It could go up to Oregon, Washington, Chicago, it starts moving across the country. Of course, we care a lot about anyone that’s unhoused, anyone that’s living on the streets, but at the same time, hotels and hotel owners and hotel teams are not equipped to handle the complexities of sometimes what this would involve, such as people with addictions or physical or mental disorders.”
In September, AAHOA and local group Better Neighbors asserted that Los Angeles lacks proper regulation of short-term rentals. They advocate for stronger enforcement of the 2019 ordinance governing platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. While the city mandates registration and imposes rules, Better Neighbors’ report revealed declining enforcement, with a 54 percent drop in warnings, an 85 percent reduction in fines, and a 25 percent rise in non-compliant listings since 2022.