Despite concerns for worker safety, negative impact on tourism, Unite Here is fighting to house people experiencing homelessness next to paying guests
WASHINGTON (Aug. 7, 2023) – 98% of Los Angeles residents say homelessness in the city is a crisis or a major problem. Despite that, 86% say LA should not prioritize housing people experiencing homelessness in hotels, according to a new survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (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%), devastate the city’s tourism industry (70%), and create an unsafe workspace for hotel staff (69%), according to the survey.
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 25-30, 2023. Other key findings include:
• 71% 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% 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% 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.”
To schedule an interview with an AHLA representative to discuss Unite Here’s fight to force hotels to house people experiencing homelessness next to paying guests, email [email protected].
Public Opinion Strategies Survey Methodology
The survey by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of AHLA was conducted July 25-30, 2023, among 500 adult Los Angeles residents. Topline results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.