The No Vacancy campaign demands that elected officials across the state of California make hotel rooms available to all unhoused Californians now in the interest of public health. State and local officials have already acted with extreme measures to combat COVID-19 and yet, they have failed to act with the same urgency when it comes to Californians who are experiencing homelessness.
California has neglected its catastrophic housing and homelessness crisis for years. Meanwhile, our civic leaders prioritize large scale hotel developments, offering billions in incentives to developers. With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus grounding the entire world, hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms sit empty while Californians continue to die at alarming rates on our streets.
Both homelessness and COVID-19 have exposed systemic racial discrimination in this country. African Americans are dramatically overrepresented in the unhoused population of California. As recent evidence shows, COVID-19 also disproportionately takes the lives of African Americans. We see similarly staggering numbers around the Latino community. Inaction on these two disasters amounts to the deliberate eradication of communities of color.
No Vacancy is a California statewide coalition made up of community organizations and individuals with lived experience of homelessness. In the interest of the health and safety of all Californians, we demand the following:
- We demand state, county, and city electeds act NOW to provide housing to ALL unhoused people in the hundreds of thousands of vacant hotel rooms across the state for the health and safety of all Californians. They must use any and all powers in their authority to do so, including commandeering hotels that do not willingly sign lease agreements. Doing anything less will leave this extremely vulnerable population exposed to the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with “housing first” principles, nothing should be allowed to delay the immediate intake of unhoused people at risk and the implementation of auxiliary services such as food and security and the recruitment of appropriate personnel for these services.
- We demand that when opening hotel rooms to the unhoused, hotels will offer their out-of-work service employees the opportunity to reclaim their jobs, and that additional service providers and case managers be hired to provide client-centered, optional services when requested to support the needs of the most vulnerable unhoused community members staying in these hotels. The rights of these workers must be upheld along with the rights of the hotel tenants, including maintaining any pre-existing union contracts, prioritizing safety and public health best practices, and providing hazard pay and paid sick leave.
- We demand the dignity and personal property rights of all individuals moved into hotel rooms must be respected; the preservation, transportation and storage of ALL chosen belongings must be accounted for in the transportation of individuals accessing protective hotel rooms. Every effort should be taken to ensure that partners and family units can stay together, including making accommodations for pets. Services provided at these hotels must always be implemented with a humane and holistic approach, and must never become extensions of the carceral surveillance state that would severely restrict, profile, and criminalize its tenants. Hotel tenants must be given the same rights and freedoms of housed tenants and hotel guests — not subjected to unreasonable regulations or room searches.