The Struggle to Fill LA's Cecil Hotel

Eight months after LA’s infamous Cecil Hotel opened as an affordable housing complex for the homeless, the majority of units remain unoccupied. It’s not because the hotel’s eerie past is scaring people away. Tenants just aren’t being moved in fast enough. Of its 600 units, only about 73 are occupied.

The situation has angered the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The organization recently took out full-page newspaper ads urging city officials to “fill the Cecil now.”

This is a unique private-public partnership. Unlike most affordable housing projects, the complex was funded and currently operates with private capital.

Developer Matthew Baron listed several reasons for the vacancies. Some units are still under renovation. The city was also slow to raise voucher rates. It initially offered subsidies of no more than $971 per month, but ultimately raised that to $1,245 per LAist. According to Baron, government agencies and nonprofits have also been slow to refer tenants to the complex.

To speed up the process, one possible solution is to have the city master lease the entire project and handle the individual lease-ups itself. Baron would only have to work with the city. That proposal was made by councilmembers Kevin De León and Bob Blumenfield and has tentative support from Baron.

“No one is more frustrated than us or our lenders and investment partners,” the developer insisted in an interview with LAist. “We'd love to see the entire building being filled up tomorrow.”


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