Supes Approve Funding Recommendations for Homelessness Measure

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved funding recommendations for Measure H, a voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax increase for the next 10 years to be spent on homelessness prevention efforts, as well as housing those currently homeless, and offering important services to the newly housed.

The Supes approved 21 interconnected funding recommendations from a 50-member panel composed of homeless individuals, experts, people that provide services to the homeless, and local officials convened and drafted the recommendations over a period of two months.

The fiscal recommendations for Measure H totaled $259 for the upcoming fiscal year 2017-2018. The funding plan tentatively sets aside a total of more than $1 billion to be used over the next three years.

During the next fiscal year, the county is slated to spend $69 million on improving and expanding the county’s emergency shelter system, as well as $62 million earmarked for providing financial support to homeless families, homeless youth, and survivors of domestic violence to help them get into a home quickly, while preventing future homelessness. A total of $19 million will fund outreach teams dispatched to identify and connect homeless individuals with services. And $8.5 million will go toward prevention strategies meant to keep those at risk of homelessness—like people leaving hospitals and jails, foster youth, and those facing eviction.

“Today is another historic day in the County of LA that highlights the energy and community collaboration being invested into the question of homelessness,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The measure is expected to help a total of 45,000 families and individuals rise out of homelessness, while protecting 30,000 others at risk of homelessness from becoming homeless during the first five years of implementation.

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County skyrocketed 23% in 2017 over 2016, according to the LA Homeless Services Authority’s latest count. The number of young homeless people jumped even higher—64% for young adults between the ages of 18-24, and 41% for kids under 18.

The supervisors unanimously approved a motion from Supe. Mark Ridley-Thomas directing the CEO to bring progress reports on Measure H targets back to the board every six months.

The board also passed a motion by Supes Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger through which the LA County Sheriff’s Department will receive a pool of $1 million to create an eight-member homeless outreach team. The 50-member panel was divided on whether to recommend the funding for the department, which currently has three department members focused on LA’s homeless population. Solis and Barger’s motion will fund the outreach group through the county’s reserve funds, rather than Measure H money.

The LA Times Editorial Board argues that such programs should instead be funded by the sheriff’s department’s budget. “The money set aside by the county for homeless services ought to be paying for professional outreach workers and counselors with years of experience as well as for the services themselves,” the editorial board writes.

The motion also allocated $1 million for non-law enforcement agencies to establish law enforcement outreach teams in service planning areas that had the greatest homeless population increases in the county. Additionally, the motion directs the county CEO to report back to the board in 90 days regarding the homeless who were not included in the latest count, and how best to include them in future Measure H allocations.

Image courtesy of Los Angeles County, and video courtesy of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

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