This is a difficult topic and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a viable solution about how to solve the homeless crisis in the United States. But I do know that a new proposal about hotels in Los Angeles housing the unhoused isn’t a good idea. But could it inadvertently end up working in favor of consumers?

According to Fox News, “Los Angeles voters will cast their ballot on a proposal that could force hotels to house the homeless, a policy that has many hotel owners concerned about how it will impact public safety.”

The president of the Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association Ray Patel went on Fox & Friends Weekend on Sunday and said: “This is not a solution, it’s just a temporary fix.” He went on to say: “And during Project Roomkey, a great example, they housed the unhoused in the hotels – but the government never provided an end solution. They never provided transitional services to permanent housing; and simply issuing hotel vouchers impacting our hotels and our marketability of those rooms to the pain tourist, corporate travelers and locals is not a solution now.”

What’s crazy is that if this passes in 2024, “the voucher program would require hotels to send information on their vacant rooms for the day by 2 PM daily, but Patel stressed that many guests have not yet checked in by that time.”

Patel is right. I often don’t book hotels until the late afternoon or evening since I wait to see if any hotels put their rooms on sale, although this tactic has backfired on me before so I don’t recommend it unless you have a backup plan.

This is not a volunteer program so it appears that all hotels will be included in the mix, including luxury hotels like the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and The Peninsula. You know those hotel GMs are really going to be up in arms. But even the lower-end hotels like Motel 6 or mid-range ones like Residence Inn will be, too.

What kind of background checks will be performed when checking homeless people into hotels? Who’s going to pay if they destroy or steal things from the room? The hotels make consumers plop down a valid credit card to ensure paying customers don’t. How about if they smoke in the room? Most hotels don’t allow it and you know some homeless people won’t care if they aren’t going to lose their deposit. Listen, I know that talking about homeless people in broad strokes is unfair. Especially these days, when the pandemic uprooted life for so many people. According to NPR, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said, “we know the pandemic has only made the homelessness crisis worse.”

However, I also know that I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable having my wife or kids stay in a hotel that doubles as a homeless shelter. I’m a fairly big guy so I can defend myself but I think this is a terrible idea.

According to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, “According to a 2015 assessment by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 564,708 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. At a minimum, 140,000 or 25 percent of these people were seriously mentally ill, and 250,000 or 45 percent had any mental illness. By comparison, a 2016 study found that 4.2 percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.” These are sad statistics and there’s no question that something needs to be done to help anyone suffering from mental illness. But I think using hotels as temporary shelters is a short-sighted, short-term solution to a much, much larger issue.

And if hotels do end up going this route, it will be yet another reason more and more travelers will start to turn to home rentals when looking for accommodations. Travelers have already seen the many benefits of booking a vacation rental instead of a hotel (more space, more privacy, easy social distancing) and this will give them one more reason to do so.

2021 was already a record year for US vacation rentals. According to Rental Scale Up, “Overall, demand was 10% higher than pre-pandemic levels (2019), the industry generated 40% more revenues thanks to record-breaking ADR (average daily rate) levels, all with 10% fewer listings available.” Those numbers will continue to rise in LA if hotel safety becomes questionable for guests.

I know there’s no easy solution but this is not a viable long-term solution and is going to come with some pretty hefty pushback from hotel executives and consumers alike.

BUT: Silver lining? If this does happen, you can bet that hotels will start having huge last-minute, one-night sales the day before to avoid having any vacant rooms so they don’t have to participate in this program.

Do you think it’s a good idea for L.A. to house the homeless in unsold hotel rooms? If not, what do you think is a good idea?

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23 Comments On "Insane: L.A. Hotels May Be Forced to House the Homeless in Vacant Hotel Rooms - And Could This Be a Good Thing for Consumers?"
  1. Kathleen|

    One of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard!

  2. CJ|

    I absolutely think this is the craziest idea I have ever heard of! I definitely feel for those less fortunate, but think the idea of putting them up in luxury, or even midstream hotels is not the answer. Build small homes for them and forget this idea!
    Only in California!!!

  3. Kirsten|

    I understand some of your objections and this is a complicated issue without easy answers but we have to do something to help people who are unhoused and struggling legitimately because of circumstances often beyond their control which a lack of support – nay in fact often abuse that I’ve seen firsthand in LA – from cops, local and federal gov’ts that’s causing people to fall into a situation where they cannot afford to be housed no matter how hard they work. The stereotype that all people who are unhoused are dangerous, mentally ill or unfit to be around other people is dangerous at best and extraordinarily cruel at worst. I hope for a more nuanced take from our industry as a whole and respect for the reality that people need our help. Instead, much of what’s being written about this everywhere comes across as very NIMBY and it makes me sad to read what feels like that from you too, Johnny.

  4. Simon|

    Terrible idea!!

    Perhaps those that are pushing this madness should first be made to open up all the vacant bedrooms in their own homes so that they would more deeply understand the inadvisability of their own woke proposal.

    I certainly would not subject my wife to the risks of having a homeless person prowling the corridors. And if I had small children I would be even more concerned. Many of the homeless are there because they do not seem to fit in with normal society. Why would anyone think that putting them up for a night in a luxury hotel will change anything for them?

    I think that if LA even tries to implement this crazy idea many people will just totally avoid LA thus dramatically hurting the economy of the city.

  5. Rebecca|

    I didn’t want to visit CA before, but this would seal the deal. I would never pay to stay in a place that doubles as a homeless shelter. Nor would it be safe to. I do think the hotels have a fighting chance, because I can’t help thinking that some of the 1% own or have stakes in a lot of these hotel brands.

  6. Peter Brezinski|

    To Kirsten: while I appreciate and understand your view, let me ask you this: would you want to stay in a Ritz-Carlton or other high end hotel knowing homeless people could be staying in those rooms zdjacent to and across from your room? My guess is you’ll probably say No. Los Angeles needs to come up with a better solution that will not potentially do great damage to its tourism trade.

  7. Anne|

    Personally, I generally stay at 4 or 5 star hotels and if I found out that I was paying top dollar for a room and they were hosting homeless I’d check out and demand a refund. I am a 100 lb. single female and would not feel safe with possible drug addicts and mental individuals could be staying next to me, riding the elevator, sharing the hall and possible recreational areas. I realize that paying customers can have some of these issues, but I’m sure the numbers are smaller. Also, and I know this sounds horribe, but how well sanitized are the rooms after these homeless stay in them? This is one of the craziest ideas ever. It’s beginning to feel like “unhoused” individuals rights are prioritized over “housed”.

  8. milt suchin|

    Absolutely disgraceful. That’s just what I want when I check into a hotel is to have a mentally challenged or addict homeless person come out and hurt me or my family! Not much different than the Los Angeles Council members who voted against the proposed law that Homeless Encampments should not be within 500 feet of a school or a religious institution!

  9. milt suchin|

    Pure lunacy! Absolutely disgraceful. That’s just what I want when I check into a hotel is to have a mentally challenged or addict homeless person come out and hurt me or my family! Not much different than the Los Angeles Council members who voted against the proposed law that Homeless Encampments should not be within 500 feet of a school or a religious institution!

  10. Karin|

    It’s too risky to stay somewhere that’s housing the homeless, so I won’t. Then what happens?
    People in the know, that work with the homeless will tell you it’s all about addiction. Until that’s address it will never be solved. As of last week the Cecil hotel in LA was empty, as the homeless population doesn’t want to follow rules, and they especially don’t want to give up their addictions.
    It’s meth that quickly destroys their brains……

  11. Anthony|

    I can be fairly certain that many if not all of the LA Council members as well as the large unions who have supported this, have substantial front / backyards at their homes. Allow them to use that space first. Telling owners of private properties with huge $$$ investments that they are required to go along w this idea is ludicrous at best.

  12. Ike|

    LA could start by every elected official taking in a homeless or maybe two every night. From there they move on down through the ranks of pay so that each salaried person earning $100K/yr. gets at least one homeless per night. That will provide rooms for about 9300 homeless every night, unless, of course, these good people could two or more.

  13. Phyllis Vance|

    I am woman business traveler that often travels to clients by myself. I am generally in a motel for 5-12 days. I can’t even find the words to express how unsafe I would feel if this is passed. I pick my hotel/motels by the area they are in, just for safety,

  14. Christina Bernstein|

    Amen to all the comments. I would really like to see Gov. Newsom and Lt. Gov. Kounalakis host a homeless person or homeless family in their homes, as we are paying their mortgages with our tax dollars.

  15. Fran|

    It should be voluntary. I’m sure there are many one or two star hotels that would welcome the homeless just to fill their empty rooms and be compensated.

  16. Susie|

    With so many stores now closed/empty due to online purchases, why don’t the council members look into leasing/purchasing these empty buildings?
    They could be turned into housing fairly easily.

  17. Karen k|

    I am traveling to California this year but I will tell you it will be the last time if this passes.

  18. Steve|

    I work in Emergency Services and know that we have many hotels and motel here in Portland that also serve as a shelter. I would NEVER stay at any of those hotels and many were a nice place to stay but now, I have no words. These hotels will lose business to travelers. When I travel I am now having to inquire if they are sheltering the homeless.

  19. MarkB|

    This idea is typical of the liberals in government. Such ideas are always centered around the idea of taking from the ‘haves’ and giving to the ‘have nots’, a very socialistic plan. I can’t imagine the problems that will arise with a street person dropped into any hotel against the owner’s wishes. The hotel loses any control over its day-to-day operation in areas of housekeeping, maintenance and keeping paying guests happy. The thought of leaving one’s guest room and walking down the hall late at night and running into a unkept homeless person is a scary thought. IMHO should hotels be forced to house homeless, past and future customers will likely not patronize those hotels. People vote with their wallets. What a preposterous idea.

  20. Cheri|

    My husband and I booked several mights at a very cery nice hotel a few years back in Long Beach, CA. This hotel, unbeknownst to us was in one of these programs. All the common areas were over run with homeless. The pool and spa were unusable because of the cleanliness. Most did not have a swimsuit and were swimming in their street clothes. The number of rude and unsupervised teens was scary. On and on. We checked out the next morning with the manager’s complete understanding and sympathy.

  21. RaulinMiami|

    As if some paying customers were not inconsiderate enough to trash a room, fight, play loud music, etc., were not bad enough – now we would have freeloaders given a place to trash and make loud noises while peaceful paying customers cannot sleep or get work done or enjoy their holiday. What a wonderful idea, NOT!

  22. Kirsten|

    @Peter Unsurprisingly, you assume wrong about me. I have stayed at hotels that were also housing people who needed shelter. And one so recently. I felt proud to support the hotels that did that because I knew that it was helping people who genuinly need our help. The comments here are disappointing and show a profound lack of compassion for other human beings.

  23. Rebecca|

    @Kirsten So, you think private business owners should be responsible to fix this situation? That’s ludacris. There are so many other solutions the government could come up with, besides ruining a well established business. If the government was really that concerned, they would find a better solution than a band aid like this. And honestly, I bet you wouldn’t be ok with staying in one of those places had you been accosted by someone who thinks they are entitled to what you have, and took it forcefully. You’re right, not all homeless people are bad or aggressive. However, all it takes is 1 person to be, for you to be unsafe. CA is in the state it is now by others who share your opinion. You couldn’t pay me to visit your state. Soon, I’ll bet you’ll be moving too.

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