The Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved two measures aimed at securing ongoing funding to combat the profound crisis of homelessness in communities across Los Angeles County.
The 5-0 votes came following hours of often emotional testimony by members of the public, some of them formerly homeless, along with an array of civic, community and nonprofit leaders.
The first measure, co-authored by Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas and new 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, formally declared a state of emergency in the County due to the homeless crisis. Their motion noted that the stakes are high: “The tremendous scale of homelessness in the County threatens the economic stability of the region by burdening emergency medical services and the social services infrastructure.”
Immediately following approval of that motion, the Board approved placing a special ¼-cent sales tax funding measure on the March 7, 2017 ballot. That motion, authored by Ridley-Thomas and new 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn, said the sales tax, if approved by voters, would be in effect for 10 years and would enable the County to sustain many of its most ambitious commitments to fight homelessness.
“The best budget projections make it very clear that current County resources are not sufficient to fund Countywide initiatives and services to combat homelessness on an ongoing basis at the levels required to address the current crisis within the County,” the motion said.
The Board of Supervisors earlier this year adopted a wide-reaching Homeless Initiative with 47 detailed strategies for combatting the crisis on multiple fronts. The Board already has approved one-time funding of $100 million, but the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has estimated that it will take $450 million annually to make serious strides in addressing homelessness in the County.
The proposed ¼-cent sales tax would generate an estimated $355 million a year. All of the funding would be legally dedicated to combating homelessness throughout the County’s 88 cities as well as in unincorporated areas.