Measure H Victory Declared

Measure H-2

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.”

_5MZ3861

Implementing the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative

IMG_5414

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.   

LACo-HomelessInitiative-FactSheet-English_Spanish_Page_1

Remarks by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On Measure H Post-Election Tally Surge

Photo by Brian Chan/Board of Supervisors

Photo by Brian Chan/Board of Supervisors

“This simply reaffirms what we witnessed on Tuesday night, that LA county is ready to tackle the crisis of homelessness,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, following the release today of the latest vote totals for Measure H, indicating that support inched higher to 67.62 percent during a post-election tally of mail-in ballots. “Long after the polls closed, voters continue to tell us it’s time to do what’s right.”

Tiki Aparments Grand Opening

IMG_0636

Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

The squalid motel in the blockbuster movie The Terminator has been transformed into an $11.6-million permanent supportive housing community for homeless adults with special needs, complete with wraparound services and various amenities.

Tiki Apartments in Florence-Firestone now has 35 affordable rental units for homeless adults heavily dependent on medical care. “I am very grateful, said one of the new tenants, who gave his name as Al. “Being here gives me hope that things will get better. My health is my struggle and I am paralyzed. This gives me hope that I can live a long life.”

_5MZ2523

Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

Facilitated by Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County invested $500,000 of its Homeless Prevention Initiative funds for the project. “I can think of no better use for this property than housing for the homeless,” he said during the grand opening celebration. “There is no more urgent an issue that tugs on our collective conscience than the homeless crisis.”

Tenants at Tiki Apartments will receive supportive services intended to help them attain greater stability, independence and economic security. This includes case management, mental health care, primary and preventive health care, substance abuse treatment, and financial and life skills training provided by the County Department of Heath Services and its nonprofit partner, Western Community Housing.

IMG_0637

Welcoming a Tiki Apartments tenant to his new home. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

“It’s a model that works, and one that must be duplicated,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “While we have much to celebrate today, we need more resources to ensure more of these projects come to fruition.”

Meta Housing Corp. is the co-owner and co-developer of the property, to be managed by John Stewart Co. Amenities include as a courtyard, outdoor fitness area, on-site laundry and gardening plots, all intended to promote wellness, self-sufficiency and community.

“At Meta Housing, our goal is always to provide high quality housing options that also fill a deep need in the local community, and the Tiki Apartments do just that,” Meta Housing president Kasey Burke said. “A blighted, vacant motel has been transformed into 36 permanent supportive units that will continue to serve the growing homeless population throughout LA.”

Meta Housing Senior Project Manager Brian “Ross” Ferrera added, “In addition to providing a safe and stable place for these homeless individuals to live, the Tiki Apartments also incorporate strong supportive services.

“These services promote wellness and self-sufficiency in order to provide residents with the tools to not only get off the streets, but to stay off the streets,” he added. “In all of our apartment communities, we want our residents to ultimately thrive and the recently completed Tiki Apartments is certainly no exception.”

 

Jacqueline Waggoner Appointed to LAHSA Board

Enterprise Southland Social 2015 at the Langham, Pasadena, CA.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas appointed Jacqueline Waggoner to the board of the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA). As vice president and Southern California market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., Waggoner has worked with local government, banks and nonprofit developers to create local funds for affordable housing, advocate for low-income families and create communities of opportunity with access to good schools, jobs, transit and health care.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said Waggoner’s wealth of experience will be an asset to LAHSA, the lead agency in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, which coordinates and manages over $132 million annually in federal, state, county and city funds for programs that provide shelter, housing and services to the homeless. LAHSA also leads the Homeless Count, a point-in-time census of the homeless population.

“With Enterprise, Jacqueline Waggoner is already ‘deep in the trenches’ of helping vulnerable populations,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We want to further tap her skill, as well as her compassion, to better serve the 47,000 souls who are homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County.”

Waggoner said the crisis of homelessness requires urgent and long-term solutions. “Homelessness used to only be concentrated in Skid Row, but now it’s dispersed throughout the county. And none of us should feel restful about that. I think that we are a more civil and humane society than to allow our fellow Angelenos to sleep on the streets.”

A Los Angeles native, Waggoner has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA. Her experience in commercial real estate lending spans more than 20 years. Before joining Enterprise, she was vice president for Community Lending with Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles. Currently, she oversees Enterprise’s affordable housing, community development, investment and strategic programs from California’s Central Coast to San Diego.

She also sits on the boards of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, a membership organization that supports the production, preservation and management of affordable homes, and on the board of the Los Angeles Business Council, an education and advocacy organization working with businesses and government to promote environmental and economic sustainability.

Waggoner acknowledges the difficulty of taking on the crisis of homelessness but remains determined to put her values into action. “You have to be passionate about this work because we won’t solve this problem overnight,” she said. “I’m devoted to the mission of helping others. I feel like there’s no career, no success, unless you’re doing something to make the world a better place.”