By Sadie Gribbon
On Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted on how to properly allocate over a billion dollars in funds for Measure H, an initiative set out to help “prevent and combat homelessness.”
With these inflated numbers, LA County’s homeless initiative, established in 2015, has brought together a 50-person committee, comprised of representatives from multiple agencies who combat homelessness. The committee has been meeting since March to determine how to allocate funds for the annual $355 million put into place for the next three years for Measure H. LA Board of Supervisors approved the nearly $259 million plan for 2017-18 on Tuesday morning that will affect the homeless citizens in Arcadia, Monrovia and Pasadena.
Measure H is funded by a ¼ cent sales tax increase in the county which creates an estimated $355 million per year to funnel into the homeless initiative. The tax, which would have been effective as of July 1, was pushed back to October because the spending level for 2017-18 fell $96 million below the estimated budget.
While it is easy to speculate money going toward placing homeless citizens into housing, Measure H goes further than that by rehabilitating and placing the needs of each individual first.
“Housing alone cannot solve the homeless problem,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “Mental health treatment, physical health treatment and drug and alcohol abuse service are all vital in this effort. Measure H will provide critical new funding to ensure that these supportive services will be readily available.”
Director of the LA County Homeless Initiative, Phil Ansell, left his job of 19 years at LA County’s Department of Public Social Services to help spearhead the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative in 2015 when the county came to the decision that Los Angeles was facing a homelessness crisis.
“The Board of Supervisors concluded that the homeless crisis in Los Angeles County was sufficiently serious,” Ansell said. “It warranted the launching of the Homeless Initiative.”
Measure H funds aim not only at preventing homelessness with strictures like its jail in-reach program, but looks at the chronically homeless citizens in LA County and accounts for their mental health needs as well as the complexities behind each person.
“A mom with two kids is going to need different services than a homeless veteran who has been on the street for ten years,” he said. “This system is structured to be responsive to individual needs within each of the different service populations and additionally there’s a range of strategies which are designed to meet different needs.”
Whether the implementation of Measure H funding will be effective in lowering the population of homeless citizens in Arcadia, Monrovia and Pasadena is yet to be determined. The county and the LA Homeless Initiative are working together to bring its homeless population out of crisis. The initiative is a step in the right direction for LA County, holding itself accountable to the upsurge of homeless individuals that lie within its borders.