AAHOA Raises High Concerns About U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Criminalization of Outdoor Sleeping

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ATLANTA, GA, July 5—AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association), representing nearly 20,000 hotel owners across the United States, expresses significant concerns over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of the City of Grants Pass, OR, v. Johnson et al., which criminalized outdoor sleeping.

The Court upheld the Grants Pass case late last month, which involved Oregon’s ban on camping for unhoused residents. The Court found the laws that criminalize sleeping in public spaces do not violate the Eighth Amendment’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment, even as the city lacked sufficient shelters and the unhoused residents had nowhere else to go.

This decision has far-reaching implications for municipalities and businesses, including the hotel industry. The Supreme Court’s ruling has raised critical issues related to public spaces, homelessness, and the responsibilities of local governments. AAHOA is concerned that such criminalization could lead to efforts such as seen in Los Angeles, CA, where city officials recently considered an ordinance that would have forced hotels to report vacant rooms by 2 p.m. daily so unhoused residents could use government vouchers to stay in them without providing any wrap-around services. This proposed LA ordinance would have placed an immense burden on the hotel industry, creating significant concerns for hotel workers and guests and threatening the local tourism and travel industry.

AAHOA’s ongoing efforts to address these concerns for more than a year resulted in a new provision revising the former Los Angeles mandatory homeless voucher program into a voluntary opportunity.

“By criminalizing sleeping in public spaces, the unhoused population will be in desperate need of places to stay,” said AAHOA Chairman Miraj S. Patel. “One of the easiest and quickest ways to find shelter will be via hotels. This places the hotel industry in a precarious position by providing shelter for people traditionally requiring wrap-around services, such as mental health support, job placement, and more.”

The Supreme Court’s decision underscores the importance of collaborative efforts between local governments, businesses, and community organizations to address homelessness and public safety. As integral community members, hotel owners are keenly aware of the need for effective and charitable solutions.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in the Grants Pass case is concerning for our members who are dedicated to providing safe and welcoming accommodations to the traveling public,” said AAHOA President & CEO Laura Lee Blake. “AAHOA calls for a comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness that includes increasing numbers of safe shelters, mental health services, treatment for addictions, job placement opportunities, and long-term affordable housing solutions. Together, we can come up with compassionate solutions that address the growing homelessness crisis without criminalizing sleeping in public parks while still recognizing that hoteliers are responsible for providing accommodations to their traveling guests and cannot be the only answer for sheltering our unhoused residents.”

Opponents assert the ruling could lead to increased challenges surrounding public safety and property management, putting additional strain on hotel owners and their ability to serve guests effectively. Hotel owners are ready to support initiatives that promote safe and vibrant communities, but they require clear and enforceable regulations to manage their properties and protect their guests.

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