Portland is grappling with a housing crisis that leaves thousands of people sleeping along the streets each night and downtown conditions that are causing corporate clients to cancel their hotel bookings.
Faced with similar problems, another city on the West Coast is considering an eye-opening solution: use empty hotel rooms as nightly shelter.
A hugely controversial measure that would require hotels in Los Angeles County to shelter homeless residents every night in unbooked rooms will appear on the November 2024 ballot.
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to send the measure to the ballot last week, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Naysayers of the measure argue that hotels and motels are not trained to deal with drug-induced behaviors, addiction and mental illness—and that it could create easily combustible situations. Supporters reply that hoteliers have exaggerated the difficulty of housing people whose central problem is affording the rising cost of apartments in California.
L.A.’s homeless population is significantly larger than Portland’s. The last time Los Angeles County released figures, in 2020, the county had 66,436 people experiencing homelessness. Multnomah County’s last count was a fraction of that: 5,228 people.
But the proportion of unhoused residents is about the same: 0.6%.
Up and down the West Coast. major cities are feeling a worsening of the crisis and struggling to find interim solutions while waiting for low-income and subsidized housing to be built.
Which leads to the obvious question: If a city council to the south reckoning with the same pressures as Portland sends such a measure to the ballot, could Portland leaders follow suit?
Just last week, WW reported that Mayor Ted Wheeler will put an ordinance in front of his colleagues that would waive certain fees for developers who agree to flip office space into workforce housing.