The cities of Bell Gardens and Lynwood were dismissed Wednesday from a lawsuit brought by Los Angeles County seeking to block cities’ efforts to bar the homeless from being temporarily housed in local hotels.
The cities had enacted legislation in an effort to hamper participation in Project Roomkey and related temporary housing programs run by the county. Lynwood rescinded its moratorium and Bell Gardens allowed its moratorium to lapse, but litigation is still ongoing against the city of Norwalk.
“Without a vaccine, physical distancing is our best line of defense,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said. “Since the start of this pandemic, L.A. County has always been intent on protecting and sheltering our most vulnerable residents to minimize their exposure to this highly contagious virus. Project Roomkey and our medical sheltering sites have saved lives, and our commitment to these initiatives reflect the moral character of Los Angeles County and its residents.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom launched Project Roomkey in early April with a goal of leasing 15,000 rooms in hotels and motels statewide that had suffered business losses because of the coronavirus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to pay 75% of the cost, and Newsom put in $150 million of state money.
“Project Roomkey and its related medical sheltering program has protected thousands of our most vulnerable residents and protected our communities,” said Tiana Murillo, the county’s temporary supervisory administrator overseeing and coordinating emergency housing efforts. “These programs are also helping us as we move forward on the road to reopening. We’re grateful for the partnership of our cities and their leaders as we work together to respond to an unprecedented pandemic.”
Los Angeles County has secured more than 3,600 hotel and motel rooms for the project and more than 3,700 vulnerable people are currently temporarily housed. Those participating in Project Roomkey have not been exposed to COVID-19, according to the county.
The county is also providing medical, temporary shelter at hotels and motels for people who have been exposed to COVID-19. This quarantine and isolation program is for anyone, including people experiencing homelessness, who need a place to quarantine and isolate and cannot do so on their own.
In April, the county obtained a temporary restraining order against the city of Norwalk after it took legislative action to prevent Project Roomkey from operating in the city. The county then added both Bell Gardens and Lynwood to the lawsuit after they took similar action to block Project Roomkey and a medical sheltering site.
In early May, the county successfully sought the court’s involvement to block Bell Gardens from interfering with a quarantine and isolation program.
After the county prevailed in both requests to the court for assistance, the Lynwood City Council voted to voluntarily rescind its moratorium, and Bell Gardens allowed its moratorium to lapse without taking action to renew it. As a result, the county dismissed both cities from the lawsuit.
Norwalk’s moratorium is still in place.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: