LA City Council votes to identify hotels refusing to house homeless, suggests “commandeering” them 

The Los Angeles city council voted on Wednesday to identify any hotels refusing to house the homeless as part of Project Roomkey, to investigate if any of those hotels have gotten tax breaks from the city in the past, and suggested these hotels may need to be “commandeered”.

The city’s goal has been to house 15,000 homeless through the project, but only 1,582 have been housed as of Wednesday, and the city has gotten frustrated with hotels that aren’t participating. 

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“If hotels are making a distinction among people classifying housed and unhoused differently in terms of accommodations that they’re going to be repaid for, that the city and county will pay for with reimbursements, then I think there’s a potential civil rights violation,” Councilman Mike Bonin said. “If the problems are on the hotel end, the public should know why, and then we should consider commandeering as they’ve talked about in other cities.”

The council voted on Wednesday to identify any hotels refusing to participate in project Roomkey and investigate if they’ve gotten any tax incentives from the city in past years.

“It would seem to me to be a complete justification that we expect something back especially during an emergency,” Councilman Mitch O’ Farrel said. 

One of the hotels pushing back is the Ritz Carlton in downtown L.A. 

The hotel has 224 condo residences that people pay millions to live in. 

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The homeowners association sent out a notice to members notifying them that they will be resisting participation in Project Roomkey, citing security, health, and property value concerns.

“We were all shocked and offended when we found out this might be a possibility,” said Art Avaness, broker and owner of RE/MAX DTLA. “In theory it’s a great idea, I support the program but in practice specifically for this property, it just isn’t, because you want to house hundreds of homeless people in a structure that’s literally in the same building with 224 homeowners? Having it in your own home basically is just a little too much, in fact, it’s offensive.”The Ritz has received millions in tax breaks from the city in the past.

The hotel did not respond to a request for comment. 

Councilman Mike Bonin provided FOX 11 with the following statement: 

"I am grateful the City Council unanimously voted today to find out why hotels that have received public benefit are not stepping up to protect public health during this unprecedented crisis."

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