A new television ad campaign in California was launched by an activist group that opposes a hotel worker union’s effort to expand policies that force hotels to offer empty rooms to the homeless.
Hotels in California and New York have been transformed into homeless and migrant shelters over the last two years since the southern border has experienced an influx of massive traffic due to looser immigration restrictions by the Biden administration and a lack of housing in each state.
Center For Union Facts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates for transparency and accountability in the U.S. labor movement, says that Local 11’s effort to house the homeless in vacant hotels was inspired by Project Roomkey – a pandemic-era initiative. Critics say CUF is anti-union.
“The campaign highlights the dangers of forcing hotels to use their rooms as makeshift shelters, or ‘Homeless Hotels,’ including potential threats to the safety and well-being of guests, hotel staff, and homeless individuals themselves,” the organization says.
Since January, the Los Angeles union has been pushing to pass the “Responsible Hotels ordinance,” which would require a hotel development project of 15 or more rooms to replace demolished or converted housing with an equivalent amount of affordable housing at or near the project site.
The Washington Times reached out to Local 11 but did not hear back.
The ordinance also would create a program, subject to funding availability, to place homeless individuals in vacant hotel rooms.
CUF lists several incidents that have occurred since Project Roomkey launched, including hotel workers being exposed to illness and bodily fluids, property destruction, and hotel staff being threatened with a knife.
According to the Vallejo Sun, conditions at one hotel deteriorated so badly, the case manager threatened to pull out of the program. Human feces was found in the hotel’s hallway in addition to urine, vomit, needles, and glass.
Additionally, hundreds of Roomkey participants were removed from three hotels for criminal activity and noncompliance, The Sacremento Bee reported, and 49 of the program’s participants in Los Angeles died, including eight deaths at just one hotel, a real estate trade magazine noted.
New York saw similar incidents at its own homeless hotels. According to CUF, in 2021, calls to the police at a New York homeless hotel increased by almost 150% in a single year.
Two sex offenders were found at one New York hotel, including a former member of New York’s most wanted fugitive list and a convicted killer staying at a Sheraton hotel in New York attacked an elderly woman in broad daylight.
More than 100,000 illegal immigrants who have crossed the southern border and claimed asylum have come to New York City, living free of charge in publicly-funded hotels and shelters because of the state and city’s sanctuary laws.
In June 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, signed a bill allowing hotels to house residents more permanently. The legislation referenced the lack of housing in New York City and the thousands of empty hotel rooms in the wake of the COVID pandemic as reasons for converting hotel rooms into permanent housing.
However, Ms. Hochul now finds herself at odds with the Biden administration and New York City Mayor Eric Adams one year later, as there are dwindling hotel rooms available for homeless migrants and financial resources are thin.
Mr. Adams estimates the cost of housing, feeding, transporting, schooling and providing health care for the new migrants will be a massive $12 billion over three years.