Several years ago I wrote about the Radisson JFK being used as a homeless shelter.
I was torn over this. Customers don’t like staying in hotels where the largest in-house group are homeless, but I do think they have a right to stay on property if the going rate is being paid for their accommodations.
Credit: Radisson JFK
Last year a New York council member proposed a law that would require hotels to notify other guests when accepting the city’s homeless. The Comfort Inn and Days Inn & Suites on Redding Street in Ozone Park were also being used to hosue the homeless.
The plan was apparently to embarrass hotel owners ‘profiting off the homeless crisis’ which seemed like really bad public policy to me. Hotel owners won’t want to house the homeless if they have to announce they’re doing it, which is a problem when there’s no alternate plan in place to provide shelter.
Now it seems another Radisson, the Radisson Toronto East, is being used as a refugee camp. They’re occupying ‘all but two floors’ of the hotel, while the chain continues to book others into the property without revealing what to expect.
The hotel acknowledges “there are guests staying in the hotel ‘long-term.'” Reviews by others report challenges.
One traveller from Los Angeles, who stayed there during a business trip a week ago, calls the place an “absolute zoo.”
Others described the hotel as “dangerous,” dirty and noisy — and that the lobby is a “madhouse,” full of loitering refugees.
…“My daughter kept getting harassed by full-grown men (refugees),” the Montrealer wrote on TripAdvisor.
…“Huge crowds of people, children spitting, yelling, jumping on top of each other, and to make things even worse, one of them stole my phone and I had to chase them to get them to return it,” the traveller wrote.
I don’t think guests generally have a right to know who else is staying at a hotel, just as no one has a right to know that I am staying there. I was thrilled when the Supreme Court struck down a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotel records be made available to police upon request. When I sign a group contract, I don’t think the hotel should or should have to notify other guests, and that the group in this case is of people without homes doesn’t change that.
The problem of homelessness, and of caring for refugees, is a difficult one. Housing them alongside hotel guests is challenging. For a hotel the relevant issue is what level of service they’re able to provide to guests.
- If they are delivering on the promised experience, including expected levels of noise and safety, that’s really the only issue.
- However if they are compromising their usual product then guests should be informed of that in advance, so they can make accommodations decisions accordingly.
- Hotels shouldn’t benefit from their government housing contract on the one hand and then fail to deliver the standard guest experience on the other.
It’s really the hotels themselves that are to blame when they offer subpar experiences to their guests. Some of these complaints though really just sound like guests were staying at a Radisson not in Europe.