Amid the city’s homelessness crisis, some landlords have turned buildings meant for low-cost housing into tourist hotels.

by Robin Urevich, Capital and Main

The Los Angeles Housing Department is proposing to significantly increase staff and double the frequency of inspections of residential hotels in an effort to stop some landlords from renting the low-cost housing to tourists in violation of city law.

The recommendations, detailed in a report to the mayor’s office last month, follow an investigation by Capital & Main and ProPublica that found some residential hotel owners had turned their buildings into boutique hotels and were advertising nightly rentals on travel websites.

downtown la skyline in the middle of the day

Since taking office in December, Mayor Karen Bass has made a major push to tackle the city’s housing and homelessness crisis by providing shelter for people living on the streets and speeding up construction of new affordable housing.

The city has paid less attention to preserving some of its already existing low-cost housing in residential hotels. Some 300 such buildings — which typically consist of basic single rooms, sometimes with shared bathrooms — were protected under a 2008 city ordinance. The law requires landlords to keep the buildings for long-term tenants or replace the units by building new ones or paying into a city housing fund.

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