Measure H Funding Consensus

With Measure H about to pay dividends, a 50-member planning group reached consensus on funding and strategy recommendations to put before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as it prepares to mount one of the nation’s largest initiatives to eradicate homelessness.

At the conclusion of the planning group’s final meeting, County Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell said, “Nothing short of a consensus-based stakeholder process of this nature would do justice to this historic moment in our effort to combat homelessness.”

Composed of County government staff, as well as formerly homeless individuals, technical experts, nonprofit service providers, and leaders of the faith, business and philanthropic communities, the planning group convened five meetings – all open to the public – to develop funding recommendations for the first three years of Measure H revenue, totaling about $1 billion.

It also endorsed 21 strategies, with an emphasis on ramping up resources for “core strategies,” which include:

  • augmented outreach and engagement to reach the homeless on every street corner
  • providing permanent housing with healthcare and other services
  • rapid rehousing for the newly homeless
  • enhancing the emergency shelter system, including for those exiting jails and hospitals
  • strengthening the network of community nonprofits already serving homeless single adults, families and youth

The recommendations will be presented to the Board on June 13.

Reba Stevens, a member of the planning group who spent 21 years living on the streets, said, “Now that we’re here and at the final stage, I’m truly, truly, hopeful. I’m excited because there are such opportunities and possibilities – they’re endless! I know that we’re going to do this, that we’re actually going to position ourselves to end homelessness.”

“It’s pretty inspiring,” added Janice Martin, another member of the planning group and an ecumenical liaison for Brothers and Sisters in Communications, which provides outreach to faith-based institutions. She added that while faith-based institutions are “already first responders” to the homeless by providing counseling and charitable services, they can be mobilized to take on an even greater role under the Homeless Initiative.

Beth Steckler, deputy director of the nonprofit Move LA, expressed appreciation for the diversity of the planning group’s members and the openness of its meetings. “I think it’s extraordinary for the County to run a transparent process to bring stakeholders together, and invite the public to come and participate,” she said. “I think it shows a great deal of political maturity.”

Measure H is a 1/4-cent County sales tax approved by nearly 70 percent of voters on March 7, and projected to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years. It is expected to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness within the next five years, and to prevent homelessness for 30,000 others.

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. The County will continue to release quarterly progress reports in connection with 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 Homeless Services Authority, the County CEO and County Department of Health Services, and other relevant County departments.

Planning the Next Step with Measure H

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All photos by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas brought together key stakeholders in the fight against homelessness to collaborate on a spending plan for Measure H, after a supermajority approved the ballot measure creating an unprecedented annual funding stream for programs to end and prevent homelessness in Los Angeles County.

“It is imperative that we draw on the expertise and experience of those on the frontlines in the fight against homelessness, as well as those who have lived it, to get the best bang for our buck with Measure H,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

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Acting on a Feb. 7 motion by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, County CEO Sachi Hamai and Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell convened a 50-member planning group that includes County government staff and technical experts, representatives of cities within the County, nonprofit service providers, leaders of the faith, business and philanthropic communities, and formerly homeless individuals.

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. The County will continue to release quarterly progress reports in connection with 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 County Department of Health Services, and other relevant County departments.

“The voters of Los Angeles County have clearly demonstrated their commitment to combating homelessness by approving Measure H,” County CEO Hamai said. “Today, we demonstrated our commitment to them by beginning a process that will ensure transparency and accountability in making sure every dollar is spent effectively and efficiently.”

“Los Angeles County voters have entrusted us with $355 million annually to fund supportive services for our homeless neighbors,” added Elise Buik, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which hosted the first planning group meeting at its headquarters. “Now, it’s our responsibility as a community to mobilize these resources effectively and efficiently – and that can only be done with a diverse coalition of community stakeholders: faith leaders, homeless service providers, community organizations and civic leaders.”

The planning group’s meetings on April 6, April 20 and May 10 are open to the public. Measure H is a 1/4-cent County sales tax that would generate approximately $355 million annually. This dedicated funding is expected to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness within five years and prevent homelessness for 30,000 others.

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Teaming Up to Help the Homeless

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First to Serve Board Chairman Pastor John Cager; St. Joseph Center Board Chair Kevin McCardle with President and CEO Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum; Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas; and First to Serve Executive Director Rev. Richard Reed. All photos by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

Two nonprofit organizations with a wide range of resources and experience have teamed up to serve the homeless in South Los Angeles, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was on hand at the grand opening of their new facility, the Broadway Manchester Service Center.

FullSizeRender[1] (2)“Both First to Serve and St. Joseph Center were created in response to a spiritual calling to serve the less fortunate,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “By co-locating together and pooling their resources, they are signaling their aim to do even more, in a collective fashion.”

At the Broadway Manchester Service Center, First to Serve and St. Joseph Center will work in tandem to provide comprehensive case management, mental health services and integrated social service programs in South Los Angeles.

“We are excited to be a part of that collaboration, of that spiritual root that can help this community,” said First to Serve executive director Rev. Richard Reed, who founded the organization with the help of his mentor, the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray.

Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, president & CEO of St. Joseph Center, said it has been her goal to expand services to South Los Angeles. “There are already so many great things happening, great programs, services and agencies, but we really feel like we could also add to the mix and be a blessing.”

First To Serve  provides state-certified and licensed substance abuse and supportive housing facilities, as well as domestic violence housing for single women and women with children. It also participates annually in the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority-supported Winter Shelter Program.

St. Joseph Center was founded in Los Angeles by two Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1976. Separately incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1987, it now serves more than 6,500 men, women and children annually, offering outreach and engagement, housing, mental health, and education and vocational programs at multiple sites on the Westside and South Los Angeles.

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Measure H Victory Declared

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All photos by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

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 end the crisis of homelessness that has swept through their communities.

The final tally from the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk shows the ballot initiative garnered 585,905 votes or 69.34 percent of the total, exceeding the two-thirds majority required for passage.

Measure H-3“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.

_5MZ3889“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. 

Measure H

Reba Stevens

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 with the Homeless Initiative strategies. Finally, the nonprofits that implement the strategies will be held to specific outcomes and standards, tracked an

d 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.”

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Implementing the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative

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Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

With voters poised to approve Measure H, the Board of Supervisors moved unanimously to streamline the Los Angeles County bureaucracy to make immediate and efficient use of the incoming funds to end the crisis of homelessness. 

Acting on a motion by Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Janice Hahn, they sought to facilitate the implementation of the 47 strategies of the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative.

“We need to get to work right away to fulfill our promise to prevent and end homelessness,” Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas said.  “Passage of Measure H dictates that the Board must take swift action to successfully and expeditiously implement its most important provisions.”

“In an incredible demonstration of generosity and compassion, a supermajority of voters in the County chose to tax themselves in order to fix the current homelessness crisis,” Supervisor Hahn said. “Now the hard work begins. We will immediately start work to scale up the most effective, impactful programs so that we can finally begin to break the cycle of homelessness trapping tens of thousands of people in LA County.” 

homeless_Los_Angeles_BCB_4884If passed by voters, Measure H would create a ¼ cent sales tax over a decade to raise $355 million annually for services to the homeless. The funding is expected help 45,000 homeless men, women and children move into stable housing within the next five years, and provide them with high-quality, multidimensional supportive services necessary to succeed in the long run. Measure H is also intended to prevent 30,000 people from becoming homeless. 

Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas’ motion calls on the many County departments and agencies tasked to implement the Homeless Initiative to report back in 30 days on actions and policy changes needed to ensure the successful implementation of Measure H. This includes boosting staffing and training; and constructing, leasing or rehabilitating facilities to serve the homeless.   

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