Hotel California: Housing the Crisis

Los Angeles is on the cusp of a surge in evictions and homelessness, with thousands of households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic likely to lose their housing. They will join the many thousands of Angelenos who are already unhoused in what is likely to be one of the largest mass displacements to unfold in the region. Black and Brown communities will bear the brunt of the crisis. Where will the currently unhoused and the newly unhoused go? Given the political failure to enact the tenant protections that would keep people in their homes, what are the plans for housing provision that must be put into place, without further ado, in order to meet this crisis? This report, the second publication in our Housing Justice in the Time of COVID-19 series, answers these pressing questions by laying out a comprehensive framework for the conversion of hospitality properties into housing through the large-scale public acquisition of tourist hotels and motels. We insist on immediate access to housing without conditions and with the guarantees of habitability and tenant rights. In addition, we argue for the conversion of such hotels and motels into social housing. In Los Angeles, publicly subsidized hotel development has mediated an extractive relationship between capital and community. It is time to redirect public resources and public purpose tools such as eminent domain for housing, especially in Black and Brown communities where public investment has primarily taken the form of policing and where the devastation of impending evictions will be most acutely felt.

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