Los Angeles County Could Buy Norwalk Motel 6 to House Homeless for Project Homekey

 

motel 6 norwalk housekey

 

Norwalk, CA – For the third time in six months the State of California and Los Angeles County have targeted the City of Norwalk with its “emergency powers” in an attempt to respond to the challenges created by the COVID-19 virus.

In April, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Samantha Jessner issued a temporary restraining order against the City of Norwalk ruling that “the interests of the county in implementing a state order under Project Roomkey to safely house the homeless during the pandemic outweighed any harm the city could suffer.” Recently, the Department of State Hospitals informed Norwalk residents of its intent to renovate and possibly house COVID-19 negative patients at the California Youth Authority (CYA) facility. Now the county has informed city officials of its intent to purchase the local Motel 6 as part of Project Homekey, a state program providing interim and permanent housing and support services to persons experiencing homelessness who are impacted by COVID-19.

The Motel 6 is located on the corner of Pioneer and Imperial at 11734 Imperial Hwy, Norwalk, CA 90650.

“Unfortunately, the City of Norwalk has no legal recourse in this matter,” stated Mayor Jennifer Perez. “During these unprecedented times, the state has exercised its ‘emergency powers’ and has essentially disenfranchised a community that wants input on important decisions affecting the city.”

In a letter from Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office dated September 1, 2020, the county outlined that “Project Homekey sites receiving funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund are exempt from local permitting requirements.” Plans by the county are to use the facility and its 56 rooms as an interim shelter within 90-days of purchase, and then convert to permanent housing by FY2022-2023. They have indicated that “per the state’s grant requirements, the property will have a covenant restricting the use and Target Population for 55 years.”

City officials have clearly indicated that the city of Norwalk is a willing participant in doing its fair share in its fight against homelessness. However, the added strain on city services placed on the city by the state and county, along with failure to allow input by the city and residents cannot continue to go unaddressed.

Efforts to bring this matter to the attention of the county were made in a letter to the County of Los Angeles, dated September 23, 2020. Therein, Mayor Perez outlined the “significant negative general fund impacts that the acquisition and utilization of this property for use as interim and permanent supportive housing would cause to the city of Norwalk.” Estimates provided by the city show a loss of “$140,000 in transient occupancy tax and $15,500 in property tax annually.” City officials would like the county to reconsider the purchase given the added financial strain on city revenue and the violation of the city’s adopted General Plan Use designation and zoning ordinance.

Although expressing frustration due to lack of input on these matters, city officials have indicated they embrace Governor Newsom’s desire to collaborate with local governments during this pandemic when he stated, “localism is determinative.” The city is seeking results and hopes the state will work directly with the city as Newsom himself recently said, the “State of California has a responsibility to support cities and counties” in its fight against homelessness.

The city has invested into a half-million-dollar program that has been credited with the sudden decrease of homeless residents in the city. In 2017, the city counted 317 homeless individuals on the streets of Norwalk as part of the Los Angeles County Homeless Service Authority official count. Since then, that number has decreased reaching a low of 168 at the beginning of this year.

“The city has proven it knows how to deal with its homelessness problem. We just want the state and county to provide us directly with the tools necessary to continue the fight,” added Perez.

The City of Norwalk expects further dialogue with county officials in hopes of working together to ensure that the state and county address their concerns.

State Says It Will Renovate the California Youth Authority in Norwalk for Non-COVID Patients

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