Skip Miller Quoted by Daily Journal in Statewide Legal Battle Over Plans to House Homeless Amid the Pandemic
As reported in the Daily Journal on April 24, 2020, a new legal battle is brewing as a result of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to move homeless people into hotel rooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Newsom’s plan, “Project Roomkey,” involves securing emergency temporary housing for homeless people by utilizing 15,000 private hotel rooms.
Los Angeles County has sued the City of Norwalk for obstructing statewide efforts to fight the pandemic by prohibiting COVID-19-related housing at city hotels. It’s the first of what could be several lawsuits as Los Angeles County’s lawyer, Louis R. “Skip” Miller of Miller Barondess LLP, vowed swift action.
“We’re just going to roll forward. We’re going to get this done,” Miller said.
The lawsuit, announced by Miller on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at a status conference in downtown Los Angeles, has led to unprecedented cooperation between attorneys and elected officials trying to move homeless people off the streets. Miller said his team is “going to enforce the governor’s emergency proclamation.”
“That’s why I’m here, and that’s what’s going to happen. And if anybody has any problems or questions, call me,” Miller said.
The lawsuit seeks to force Norwalk to “implement Project Roomkey and other temporary emergency housing programs for at-risk individuals experiencing homelessness.”
Norwalk has directed a hotel to cancel its Los Angeles County contract amid threats to revoke the hotel’s municipal entitlements; and also enacted an ordinance to prohibit city hotels and motels from using the properties for pandemic-related housing and as shelters for homeless people.
According to the lawsuit, Norwalk’s actions are a violation of the California Emergency Services Act and Newsom’s recent executive orders, which say cities “have a mandatory duty to take all measures to carry out the governor’s emergency plans.”
The lawsuit also states that, “Norwalk’s actions are impeding the county’s ability to save lives and minimize the impact on the strained health care system during the state of emergency. Immediate action is necessary to effectuate the governor’s emergency orders and save the lives of thousands of California’s most vulnerable residents.”