LA Voters Will Decide Whether Hotels Must House the Homeless

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to add a controversial measure to the 2024 ballot, asking voters to decide if the city should require hotels to rent unsold rooms to people experiencing homelessness. The council decided against enacting the ordinance directly but set the stage for what will likely become a heated public battle for the next 19 months.

Most of the hotel industry stands in opposition to the ballot measure, as they have gradually emerged from operating under Project Roomkey, initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic to use hotel rooms for people without homes to shelter in place. The city housing department would receive reports from hotels regarding vacant rooms and provide prepaid vouchers for people experiencing homelessness to utilize the empty hotel spaces.

Establishments could not discriminate against participants based on their lack of housing. Although the proposed voucher program has no designated source of funding, the city expects to rely on funding they plan to secure by July 1, 2023. The organization that brings this proposal to the table expects to use federal, state, and local sources, as well as donations from private sources like churches, to purchase the vouchers to help those in need.

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