After the surprising victory of Measure H, the homeless assistance sales tax increase, in the last election, county and city officials and non-profit organizations are planning to move quickly to put its money to work.
I talked to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas about implementing the measure, which will raise about $355 million annually to provide services for the growing number of homeless on the streets. Combined with a city bond issue, passed by voters last year, the combined city-county strategy envisions moving homeless from the streets into rental housing. They will also be treated be for addiction, mental illness and other ailments that bedevil that population,
“Rapid rehousing” will be the goal, he said. The supervisors should approve the plan June 15 and “we’ll be rocking and rolling by July 1,” he said.
Teams of outreach workers will visit the rapidly increasing tent encampments to persuade the inhabitants to move into rental housing. Teams will be doubled to more than 30. They will include a public health nurse, a social worker, and a formerly homeless person. Treatment facilities will be set up around the county. Hopefully, landlords will accept homeless tenants, whose rent will be paid by the government, if treatment is available nearby.
“We’ll make an assessment of existing housing units,” he said. Meanwhile, the city bond issue will begin to finance construction of new housing for the homeless.
Obstacles remain. The Trump administration could reduce funds that pay the rent for homeless housing.
Officials will be under pressure to perform. “The people did something extraordinary” in approving Measure H,’ Ridley-Thomas said. “We have to show results.”