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Los Angeles measure to put homeless in hotels goes to ballot amid union strike

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(The Center Square) – Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to place a measure on the 2024 primary ballot to potentially require hotels to shelter unhoused individuals in vacant rooms rather than use its power to adopt the policy outright.

Under this measure, hotels would be mandated to tell the city how many empty rooms it has each day so the city can issue “fair market rate” vouchers for providing overnight housing.

While City Council had the option to skip a vote by the public to adopt the policy directly, it’s likely that forcing the measure before voters instead of taking a stance on it themselves would absolve them of any issues with its main potential backers, Unite Here Local 11.

The union collected enough signatures for the measure to reach the ballot box, represents over 32,000 members employed in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas, and convention centers across Southern California and Arizona, and is emerging as a major power in regional politics. In addition to promoting this local ballot measure, Unite Here Local 11 is also behind the ongoing strike by hotel workers to secure higher wages in response to the higher cost of living.

In a statement published by Unit Here Local 11, Jovani Ramirez, a cook who works at both the Beverly Hilton and Fairmont Century Plaza and commutes from Santa Clarita, said, “I am going on strike because I work two full-time jobs to provide for my four children. I need free family healthcare because my youngest son is autistic. It is morally wrong that I work 16 hours a day in our most prosperous industry but cannot afford to live in Los Angeles.”

Keith Grossman, spokesperson for the coordinated bargaining group representing dozens of hotels across Los Angeles, told Spectrum News that the hotels offered an immediate $2-per-hour increase in pay, with an additional $3-per-hour to be added within 12 months.

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