In a historic vote that will change the urban landscape of Los Angeles County for years to come, a supermajority of voters said “yes” to Measure H, voting to tax themselves to prevent and end the crisis of homelessness that has swept through their communities.
The latest tally from the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk shows the ballot initiative exceeded the two-thirds majority required for passage, with 585,905 (69.34 percent) of voters choosing “yes” and 259,098 (30.66 percent) of voters choosing “no.”
“The County of Angels lived up to its name,” County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Thanks to voters’ trust, generosity and compassion, we now have the means to implement proven strategies to end and prevent homelessness on a massive scale, and address the defining civic issue of our time.”
Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas was the driving force behind efforts to declare a state of emergency on homelessness and to place an initiative on the March 7 ballot to raise funding for the County’s Homeless Initiative and community action plan. According to the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, records from as far back as 1902 show Measure H is the only revenue proposal ever attempted during a March election, when voter turnout is typically low and a two-thirds majority is needed for approval.
“With nearly 70 percent of voters supporting Measure H, it’s clear that our community will no longer accept homelessness as the status quo,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of the nonprofit United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “We are proud to have been a part of such a broad coalition of civic and community leaders, all working towards a shared vision: a Los Angeles County without homelessness.”
Measure H would create a 1/4- cent sales tax over a decade to raise $355 million annually for services to the homeless. It would cost the average taxpayer about $1 per month. This unprecedented funding stream is expected to help 45,000 homeless men, women and children move into stable housing within the next five years, and provide them with the high-quality, multi-dimensional supportive services they need to succeed in the long run. It is also expected to prevent an estimated 30,000 people from becoming homeless in the first place.
The services would be consistent with the County’s Homeless Initiative and community action plan, which developed 47 proven strategies for combatting homelessness after conducting 18 policy summits that brought together a broad and diverse group of community stakeholders.
To ensure accountability, the County Auditor Controller will have an independent auditor regularly report on Measure H spending, and a Citizen’s Oversight Advisory Board will publish a complete accounting of all allocations and submit periodic evaluations. Furthermore, the funding recommendations will be discussed in public via a 50-member allocations committee, and the County will continue to release quarterly progress reports in connection to the Homeless Initiative strategies. Finally, the nonprofits that implement the strategies will be held to specific outcomes and standards, tracked and monitored by the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority, the County CEO, and several relevant County departments.
Reba Stevens, a formerly homeless person, expressed gratitude for Measure H.
“I know first hand that this is going to change the lives of every single person who has experienced homelessness, and those who are currently homeless,” she said. “Measure H is going to change and save lives. I’m truly excited and thrilled. I don’t even know what to say, other than thank you, thank you so much.”