At the March 7 elections, voters in Los Angeles must decide on two measures related to homelessness. L.A. municipal Measure S would require development project approval that may affect housing for the homeless, and county-wide Measure H would implement a quarter-cent sales tax to fund homeless services. On March 1, AirTalk hosted a Voter Cram Session about these two measures. The panel included Jill Stewart, director, Yes on S; Laura Raymond, campaign director, Alliance for Community Transit (ACT-LA); Chris Ko, director of homeless initiatives, United Way; Rebecca Prine, founder, Recycled Resources for the Homeless; Veronica Lewis, division director, SSG/Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS); Rina Palta, correspondent, KPCC; and Jack Humphreville, columnist, CityWatch.
To supplement the program, we’re answering a pair of questions submitted by community members through KPCC’s Voter Game Plan:
Re: Measure H, who will get to decide how to use the money, and how will implementation be overseen in order to avoid waste or other misuse?
Ultimately, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors would have final say over which programs the money would fund. They've already started laying the groundwork for how they'd make those decisions should the measure pass.
One of the initial priorities they've identified is expanding L.A.'s emergency shelter system. Should the measure pass, a 50-member advisory group consisting of county leaders, homeless service providers, faith leaders and public officials would convene and draw up a list of recommendations for funding from the first three years of the tax.
The board would consider their proposals in June. Going forward, a five-member group, appointed by the board, would monitor the funds and an independent auditor would examine them annually.
The measure's proponents have promised to make massive reductions in homelessness in Los Angeles County – from Pasadena to the Antelope Valley, to South L.A. and Santa Monica. It would be up to citizens and the media to figure out whether those promises are kept.
What are our taxes paying for and how is it funding Homelessness in California?
Jack Humphreville, Citywatch columnist, explained, “the city [of Los Angeles], this last year, put in a $140 million budget. 50 [million] of that was donated in land, 26 [million] came from special funds, 20 [million] was supposed to come from a linkage fee, and they had about $40-50 million out of the general fund. The county, on the other hand—I’ve seen numbers like $450–$500 million.”
Chris Ko of United Way LA added, “that’s why it’s important to lock in dedicated revenue sources; one year you think you’re going to have a lot of money in the budget…and the next year, you never know. Year by year, political priorities can change.”
You can watch the entire program below or listen on AirTalk.
Photo Credit: Quincy Surasmith / KPCC