Reducing Norwalk's homeless population is priority, says Bob Archuleta

Reducing Norwalk’s homeless population will be a priority for State Senator-Elect Bob Archuleta. Photo by Alex Dominguez

Reducing Norwalk’s homeless population will be a priority for State Senator-Elect Bob Archuleta. Photo by Alex Dominguez

DOWNEY — State Senator-Elect Bob Archuleta got an official introduction to local leaders Monday during a meet and greet address held at the Columbia Memorial Space Center, voicing his intent to create cooperation between the cities of the 32nd Senate District.

Archuleta, a Democrat, won the 32nd State Senate seat during this past Nov. 6 election, defeating Republican nominee Rita Topalian. He will be officially sworn in this upcoming Monday, Dec. 3.

Senate District 32 includes 20 cities, including Downey and Norwalk.

At the morning event, Archuleta stood front and center in front of many of the City Council members, City managers, city staff, and some residents that we will soon be working with and presiding over for the next four years.

The soon-to-be senator first addressed that while every city may require different needs and carry different concerns, he planned on working with all of them equally.

“Everyone who is in the district, everyone who we serve and represent has to be treated fairly and equitably,” said Archuleta. “Every city has its own agenda no doubt, but every city has issues that may not affect the other city.”

“We talk about the 32nd Senate District; a million people. The issues are there. Here we are starting the year 2019 and God knows what’s ahead of us, but I know if we work together the 32nd District is going to come together like no other.

Archuleta described the region as the “Fighting 32nd.”

“We’re going to be fighting to serve and represent you,” said Archuleta. “If there’s a dollar on the table, we’re going to divide it up. There’ll be times where one time might get a big chunk of it, there might be times where the other city might get a big chunk and the other city will have to wait. It just depends on the issues and what’s taking place.”

Topics covered ranged from crime, to homelessness and housing, to infrastructure, to senior services and veteran aid. Many of these issues, Archuleta alluded, he planned to tackle using teamwork between the cities of the district.

Archuleta said that the cities would “joint venture.”

“We’re going to be partners,” said Archuleta. “I’m going to pool from you and give to someone else.”

Photo by Alex Dominguez

Photo by Alex Dominguez

Archuleta also took time to point out different individual issues affecting many of the cities within the 32nd district, stating that he eventually plans to visit each and every city to identify their needs.

One of the first thing’s he’d like to do is “take care of Norwalk.” Specifically, Archuleta took aim at homelessness and a currently unutilized 30-acre parcel of land.

“You and I may have driven in and out of Norwalk, but do we really know Norwalk,” said Archuleta. “We’re talking about mental health, we’re talking about homelessness. Norwalk has a facility there that I think is underutilized: the hospital that’s there. There was juvenile hall that that was there that’s empty. We want to look at that. Can we build housing? What can we possibly do there?”

“I’ve already contacted Sacramento, and I’ve told them that one of the things that we’re going to do for my district is homelessness, and we’re going to look at Norwalk with that huge 30-acre parcel…I’m so pleased that Norwalk is ready to step up…If I take care of Norwalk, it’ll absorb some of the other cities and we can go ahead and utilize that.”

Late last year, a proposal to turn the aforementioned parcel of land into a temporary homeless shelter during the cold winter months received considerable backlash from Norwalk residents. At the center of the controversy was then Mayor Luigi Vernola, who claimed to oppose the shelter despite writing a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown asking for help to open the shelter.

Whatever the case, the proposal never made it off the ground and was officially pronounced dead by LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn in late November 2017.

Archuleta also said that he would like to see cities work together on budgets.

“Some of you are every fortunate to have a surplus. Some of you are still struggling. Some of you need help,” said Archuleta. “If I have a mathematical genius sitting right there, I’m going to bring him right over here to sit with you and we’re going to go ahead and interact. I’d like to do that to cooperate with one another.”

“I come from one city, but now I have 20. We’re going to take care of everyone. Everyone’s got to be fed, well trained, taken care of, and prepared for the future.”

Archuleta also announced that his headquarters would be located in Norwalk, pending final security checks and approval.

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