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Norwalk Mayor Wants State of Emergency to Deal With Homeless

By Brian Hews

A few weeks ago, HMG-CN reported on the number of homeless in area cities, with Norwalk experiencing a near doubling of its homeless population from 168 to 311 from 2020 to 2022, according to Los Angeles County homeless counts.

 At this past Tuesday’s meeting, Norwalk Mayor Rick Ramirez sought a state of emergency to deal with the homeless issue.

 “We need to address this issue now,” Ramirez said, adding that he wanted the declaration before year’s end.

 Ramirez has blamed the increase on the Project Roomkey program, which provided temporary shelter at Saddleback Hotel, so he directed the city manager and staff to begin the process of declaring a state of emergency.

 The Emergency Services Act identifies the criteria and process by which a local government may proclaim a local emergency. It can trigger certain authorities and protections under the ESA.

 Emergency ordinances could be passed temporarily, giving Norwalk command of certain funds and enacting temporary laws to handle homeless issues.

 Arguments can be made that Project Roomkey has caused the increase in Norwalk; until 2020, the number of homeless in Norwalk had decreased from 316 in 2017 to 168 2020.

 And LA County plans for new homeless shelters in Norwalk and West Whittier.

 Los Angeles Supervisor Janice Hahn has always been supportive, “the homeless crisis is far from over and demands an urgent response.”

 “We can no longer wait around for four or five years to build an affordable housing project,” Hahn wrote in an email. “The public wants us to use vacant buildings and motels. I’ll ensure accountability and that projects and every site get the support it needs because we all need to make this work.”