Letters to the Editor: Demolishing Skid Row housing would be an appalling mistake

Dewey Hotel, a Skid Row Housing Trust property, is seen boarded up and closed in Los Angeles on March 10, 2023

Dewey Hotel, a Skid Row Housing Trust property, is seen boarded up and closed in Los Angeles on March 10, 2023. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your article, “The end of Skid Row’s cheap hotels? L.A. leaders want to replace last-resort homeless housing,” lays bare the harsh truth that city officials clearly have no viable plan to stem the homelessness and affordable housing crises. Getting rid of single-room occupancy units (SROs) would only make matters worse.

L.A. continues to fail when it comes to housing, and that dysfunction is on full display as officials propose destroying the bottom rung of the housing ladder as a potential solution. With more than 75,000 people homeless in L.A. County and six of them dying every day, how can the answer be to destroy the only buildings available to house people in dire need?

New construction takes years, and most developers don’t want to build truly affordable housing because it’s not a moneymaker. Taking advantage of existing inventory and renovating older, empty properties brings housing units online faster and cheaper.

Are SROs perfect? No. But with proper support, they are viable, as they have been for more than 100 years.

SRO units are a lifeline for low-income people. They’re not glamorous, and they often have problems that come with old buildings in any city, but they are solutions to the tragic humanitarian crisis we face every day.

SROs just need investment — money and attention the city has failed to give.

Mark Dyer, Los Angeles

The writer is vice president of operations, corporate real estate and housing at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which owns several converted SRO hotels in L.A.