Council Connection »My letter to Homewood Suites management regarding the Levy family situation

Friday, August 6, 2021

Mr. August Richardson, General Manager of Homewood Suites by Hilton and Ms. Gillian Potts, Chief Financial Officer of Homewood Suites by Hilton:

I write out of concern for David and Lakesha Levy, Seattle residents who have contacted my city council office about their dire housing situation. I urge your hotel to write off the current $ 3,384 rental debt owed to Homewood Suites by Hilton. I also urge you to do the same for all other working class renters who have accrued Covid-related rental debts to your hotel due to loss of employment and / or income.

From what I understand, the Levy family, which includes their nine year old son, stayed at your hotel for almost nine months starting in November 2020. The Levys paid your hotel a total of $ 18,548 over 49 payments during this period. They did so despite David and Lakesha losing their jobs and significant income due to the pandemic, and suffering from work accidents. Yet you and the hotel management have decided to force the family out on August 1 due to a $ 3,384 debt that you will apparently send to collections in 90 days. It is a shame that Governor Inslee and the Democratic-dominated state legislature decided to end the state-wide eviction moratorium on July 31, which protected residents of long-distance hotels. stay like yours. But the end of the moratorium on evictions does not excuse the refusal of your hotel, managed by the huge corporation Hilton Worldwide, to extend basic compassion to a family that includes one child, a family whose management knew there were almost no housing options left.

The plight of the Levy family stands in stark contrast to that of Hilton Worldwide, which has assets totaling $ 16.75 billion in 2020. It is outrageous that the Levy family have paid so much and still face the very real prospect of becoming homeless, all because of $ 3,384 in Debt to a multi-billion dollar corporate hotel chain. I recognize that you execute decisions made by senior company executives. I urge you and these business leaders to do the right thing and write off all of the family’s $ 3,384 rental debt owed to the Homewood Suites by Hilton..

Currently, the family is staying at a nearby hotel using the reward points they have accumulated while paying close to $ 19,000 at your hotel. Throughout their nine-month stay at your hotel, the Levys were continually forced to pay an unsustainable portion of their modest income to meet running costs, while trying to pay off your hotel debt and save for the day. be able to move into rental accommodation at the same time. They took out loans and even used up their 401,000 funds just to survive, keep a roof over their heads and protect their child. Caught in a vicious cycle of indebtedness, they were never able to raise the funds necessary to gain approval to move into a rental home, even though they carried out a tireless apartment search and several months.

David and Lakesha lost their home in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic and began living in long-term hotels to survive. In the months that followed, like millions of workers across the country, David and Lakesha lost their jobs and significant incomes. David worked as a chef (at a Hilton hotel, no less) and was a proud member of UNITE HERE Local 8. He lost his job in March 2020, although he was able to find work soon after. A month ago, however, he broke his knee on the job and hasn’t been able to work since. Lakesha lost her home help job in September of last year because she couldn’t both work and help their son with his online schooling. She still has not received unemployment benefits. Millions of women, and disproportionately women of color, have lost their jobs in this way during the pandemic.

The Levys’ predicament is not unique at this time. Millions of tenants across the country suffered job and income losses during the Covid-19 pandemic and were forced to take on unprecedented debt. Seattle landlords raised rents by 21.6% since January (double the national rate), a rent increase of $ 3,816 / year for an average apartment. This causes more displacement and homelessness, with the black and brown community suffering disproportionate impacts. David, Lakesha and Cole look horribly close to joining the estimated 12,000 people in Seattle who are living without a home, despite their best efforts.

The Homewood Suites by Hilton can afford to write off the Levy family’s $ 3,384 debt in order to resolve a situation that is neither in the best family interest nor in the public interest.

The Levy family, along with all working class tenants, struggling homeowners and struggling small businesses, deserve not to be devastated by the pandemic through no fault of their own, as the rich have gotten richer . The Covid-19 pandemic has cost the global economy trillions of dollars, and someone will have to pay. Big corporations and billionaires and multimillionaires, not working-class families like the Levys, should be paying for the crisis. Once again, I urge you to do the right thing and write off all of the $ 3,384 rental debt the Levy family owes to the Homewood Suites by Hilton, and do the same for anyone who has accumulated debt from rentals related to Covid in your hotel.

Truly,

Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Council Member


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