The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $460 million spending plan for FY 2019-20 to widen and intensify its fight against homelessness. The five-member board unanimously adopted dozens of recommendations for the third-year budget of Measure H, the voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax dedicated exclusively to providing services and programs to prevent homelessness and combat the County’s homelessness crisis. The County’s unprecedented investment was reinforced at the State level as Governor Newsom’s revised budget aims to double State spending on homelessness to $1 billion.
The newly- adopted Measure H budget expands on spending priorities adopted by the Supervisors for its first two years and targets a number of critical strategies in the County’s comprehensive Homeless Action Plan. This investment includes $126 million for shelter/interim housing, $85.4 million for rapid re-housing, $77.3 million for permanent supportive housing, $28.4 million for outreach and $23 million for prevention.
In concert with the funding plan, the Board passed a series of motions to maximize its impact, including:
Responding to the Homeless Count (Sups. Hahn, Solis) – A board Directive for the Homeless Initiative to analyze the forthcoming 2019 Homeless Count results and report on its implications for the allocation of State and Measure H funding and potential recommendations to shift Measure H funding within its strategies and use new State funding as needed.
Maximizing Investment in Housing Innovation (Sups. Kuehl, Hahn) – Calling for an assessment of the Housing Innovation Challenge and a potential shift of $3.3 million to the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool to generate more innovative housing.
And two motions to potentially redirect $1.3 million from the Homeless Initiative Technology Innovations Request for Proposals (which has potential alternate funding sources) to two programs:
– Peer Navigators for Homeless College Students (Sups. Hahn, Solis) – $700,000 to Enhanced Services for Transition Age Youth for peer navigators who will locate housing opportunities and services for homeless students at all community colleges in the County.
– Mobile Shower Expansion Program (Sups. Hahn, Solis) – $600,000 to the Countywide Outreach System to increase access to mobile showers for people experiencing homelessness and to cover the costs to operate the showers countywide.
Measure H is making a difference
Thousands of homeless individuals and family members have been helped by Measure H and the County is on track to meet the initial five-year goal of Measure H to provide permanent housing for 45,000 family members and individuals.
The system is helping more people than ever before. Among the most important successes in the first 21 months of Measure H-funded work (July 2017 – March 2019) – 14,241 individuals and family members have been permanently housed as a result of Measure H strategies and 28,458 individuals and family members entered crisis, bridge and interim housing funded in whole or in part by Measure H.
Kirk Slaughter, who had experienced homelessness for four years and now lives in supportive housing, shared his experience. “I’m an actual person that represents these statistics. Before I was homeless I had a life…I was a grad student from USC, I was working, I paid my taxes. But due to bipolar disorder, substance abuse and wrong choices, my life took a turn. Just six months ago I was living under a bridge. But my case manager and her team pulled me up and got me into emergency housing – and now I have my own place with a key. I’m going to re-enter society and I am a changed man thanks to all of you.”
The number of people falling into homelessness is far outpacing these record housing placements, driven primarily by high rents, unjust evictions and a significant shortage of affordable housing units for low-income renters.
Building on the Board’s prior actions to extend and expand rent control in unincorporated L.A. County, today the Board passed a motion in support of two bills by the State legislature to protect renters from unforeseen and unaffordable rent increases, as well as evictions without just cause. The Board (Motion by Sups. Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas) lent its support to AB 1481 (Bonta), which would help curb unjust evictions by prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without just cause; and AB 1482 (Chiu), which would prohibit rent gouging, guarding against the most drastic and disruptive rent increases in places where tenants have no other protection.
Supervisors comment on today’s funding decisions
“This problem did not happen overnight and we are not going to solve it overnight,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “But I shudder to think about how many more people would be on the streets tonight if not for the generosity of LA County voters who supported Measure H. This crisis is unprecedented, but today we are addressing it with unprecedented resources.”
“It is critical that our strategies funded by Measure H are responsive to the evolving needs of our homeless residents and the general public,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “The pivots we will make in the upcoming year around prevention and employment represent proactive solutions to curb the inflow into homelessness, which is a critical piece of combating the County’s crisis.”
“By empowering cities, service providers, developers, landlords, and community-based organizations to effectively access and utilize County resources, we can work together to lift individuals and families out of homelessness,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “Rent stabilization, tenant protections, mobile showers, identifying interim and bridge housing, increased construction of affordable units, enhanced training for law enforcement, and additional support for our cities’ homelessness plans are just some tools being used to address all facets of this crisis. While the County and our partners have been successful at placing thousands of people into permanent housing, today’s $460 million investment in homelessness prevention and services will help many more of our residents over the next year.”
“(Tuesday’s) Measure H budget reflects the County’s strong commitment to confront this deepening and dynamic crisis head-on in spite of serious headwinds that hinder our progress,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It will take bold investments and unwavering partnership at all levels of government and society. We must make it work for the good of this county and the sake of our very moral fiber. There will be no retreat as we battle to get Everyone In.”
“This Board has shown great unanimity in working to help people who have lost their homes get back into housing, but our work can’t simply be about helping people who have already become homeless,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We have to go upstream and prevent people from becoming homeless. The Board’s approval today means that the Homeless Initiative will make unprecedented investments in prevention, as well as investments in outreach, supportive housing, rapid re-housing and bridge housing.”