By Claire DuMont
Online Sports Editor
Los Angeles voters passed Measure H, a measure on the March 7 ballot that will implement a plan to increase funding for the Los Angeles County homeless population. While it may seem costly to the average taxpayer, Measure H is a pertinent step in combating Los Angeles’ homelessness epidemic, as it will provide them with advantageous and necessary services.
The homeless population has been a growing problem in Los Angeles County with the estimated number of homeless people in Los Angeles reaching over 45,000 out of the 3.88 million living in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. To help reduce this increasing population, Measure H will fund services for homeless youth and adults such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, health care, job training and emergency and affordable housing. The measure will be funded by a .25% increase in sales tax in Los Angeles County, producing an estimated $355 million annually over the course of 10 years.
The homeless population in Los Angeles County has been steadily increasing over the years, with a 5.7% increase from 2015 to 2016, according to the LAHSA. The passing of Measure H will be beneficial for Los Angeles County, as it will be able to stop the upward trend of those without homes through both temporary and permanent housing and will be a clear solution to the homeless problem.
According to Vote Yes on H, a campaign website for the measure, the funding from the tax increase will go toward three different avenues of homeless reduction in the area: permanent housing, support services, such as physical and mental health care, and job training. The targeted funding toward these specific areas will greatly improve the lives of those who are currently homeless and ensure that they have access to services that provide necessary resources to improve their way of life.
One of the main services under Measure H is the establishment of outreach teams throughout the Los Angeles area. According to Curbed Los Angeles, a Los Angeles news outlet, the implementation of these outreach teams has already decreased the homeless population in Venice and Skid Row specifically. The teams in Skid Row aided the homeless population by offering identification cards, health services and housing search assistance, according to Curbed Los Angeles. In May 2016, the team in Skid Row established the goal to house 2,000 homeless in the next four years. These teams will meet the needs of the homeless immediately by ensuring their temporary housing through the deployment of case workers and health officials in the area.
Lastly, part of the funds from Measure H will go to what is known as “bridge housing,” which according to the Los Angeles Times, is essentially temporary housing for the homeless. The measure provides secondary services for those living in bridge housing as they wait for permanent housing in which to reside. With this temporary housing option, the number of homeless living on the streets of Los Angeles is bound to decrease.
As stated, the measure will be funded by a .25% increase in sales tax for 10 years, which will be paid by citizens. One of the main arguments against Measure H is a concern regarding this tax because, according to Ballotpedia, an election information website, voters are unsure as to where this money will go.
In order to combat this concern, Measure H includes the creation of a Citizens’ Oversight Advisory Board with officials who will review the expenditures of the tax fund and report their evaluations to Los Angeles County. This committee will help ensure taxpayers’ money will be under a review of suitable transparency. Specifically, it will make sure that the funding is going straight to the services outlined in the measure through semi-annual reports.
In order to end a problem that has been affecting Los Angeles for decades and ensure a better future for those impacted, citizens of Los Angeles must continue to support Measure H and related measures that come with it.