Courtesy of Russ Allison Loar via Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 2024, Los Angeles will propose to voters a controversial bill requiring hotels to rent out vacant rooms to the homeless population of the county. This bill, while it may seem like a way to solve the worsening homelessness problem in LA, is a last-ditch effort by the county to hold someone else responsible for a crisis they created. 

With the astronomical price of homes in and around LA continuing to rise, the cost of living has reached well beyond the means of most Los Angeles residents. The median income of LA County residents has remained stagnant at around $31,000 a year, while the average cost of living ranges at the low end of about $4,000 a month, which rounds up to $48,000 a year. The math simply does not add up, and LA County is forcing hotels to take an unreasonable financial burden to solve this problem. 

If passed, this proposal would require hotels to report vacancies to the city housing department. The housing department will then pay a “fair market rate” for rooms using prepaid vouchers. This voucher program has no proposed source of funding and is currently completely dependent on donations from church groups, private buyers and homelessness relief programs. 

Most hotels are happy to offer their services to the program once their many safety and financial concerns are addressed. Hotel insurance carriers have also claimed they will pull coverage from hotels participating in this program because of the unmitigatable risk factor. Hotels did not cause the homlesness crisis and they should not be the solution either. 

Since LA County city officials have gradually been closing COVID era homelessness relief program Project Roomskey’s locations, using hotels seems like the county’s way of forcing someone else to deal with a problem they created. This homeless relief program may seem like a good idea on the surface, but in reality it proposes an unreasonable financial and safety burden for hotels and their patrons.