Billion Dollar Effort to Fight Homelessness Approved By LA County Supervisors

Photo 2 Mayor Garcia and Sunny Zia

Long Beach Community College District Trustee Sunny Zia and Mayor Robert Garcia joined a host of supporters to speak on behalf of the Measure H spending plan Tuesday. Photo: Courtesy of Supervisor Janice Hahn's office

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of funding allocation for Measure H funds Tuesday, giving a clearer picture of how and where money generated from the voter-approved sales tax increase that passed in March.

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Tuesday’s vote by the Board of Supervisors approved a $1 billion plan to combat the growing homeless population in the county. The tax is projected to generate over $350 million annually and must go toward homeless services.

Its first budget, which won’t include a full fiscal year, is reported to be about $260 million with that money being focused in key areas identified by a panel of homeless services experts, including the head of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.


 

 

Those early endeavors will include case management, rental subsidies, outreach improvements, advocating for homeless employment and other supportive services. Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Long Beach, made several changes to the plan that was eventually adopted, including giving Long Beach more flexibility in spending its Measure H funds.

“Long Beach has been able to reduce its homeless population and was one of the few bright spots in the recent homeless count results,” Hahn said. “Measure H funding will soon help Long Beach add to these efforts but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I want to ensure that Long Beach leaders have the flexibility they need to build on that success and spend Measure H funds in a way that is best for Long Beach.”

Hahn’s other proposals included a motion to explore ways to take Measure H funds and direct them toward serving the needs of homeless students as a recent report showed one-in-ten California State University students experience homelessness. She also requested that funding be used to increase access to childcare and preschool for homeless families, something she saw as an impediment to parents trying to find jobs or housing.

Earlier this month the county had reported its annual homeless count figures, ones that showed a 23 percent spike over the previous total. Long Beach, which released its totals in April, reported a 21 percent decrease.


 

Long Beach is also one of the handful of cities that will not immediately pay into the tax as it already has a sales tax rate at the state’s maximum allowable level. The 10-year tax which will kick in starting October 1 won’t receive any contributions from Long Beach shoppers until year six.


Mayor Robert Garcia, who campaigned on behalf of Measure H earlier this year, was present at Tuesday’s meeting and advocated on behalf of the city and the county’s efforts to fight homelessness.

Garcia called the vote historic during an address at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, noting that the funding package was the largest investment the county has ever made to address the homeless issue in the region. The mayor also announced that Andy Kerr, a member of Long Beach’s homeless advisory committee, will serve on the Measure H citizen advisory board which will monitor the progress of Measure H spending.

“We’re very grateful that through Measure H and through the county’s work today that the city of Long Beach will be receiving direct funding out of Measure H, which was something that we weren’t sure how that was going to end up for a few weeks,” Garcia said. “Long Beach will now gain millions of dollars in new additional revenue that will come directly to the Long Beach continuum of care that will help us further reduce homelessness in the City of Long Beach.”



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