Homeless encampment. Photo by Mayra Vasquez/Los Angeles County
Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors expressed support for a California State Senate budget proposal that would allocate $5 billion over four years to increase the construction of affordable housing and fund immediate and long-term solutions to homelessness.
“While the Governor’s May Revise sets aside a portion of funds for emergency grants, bolder action and more systemic intervention are needed,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in the motion. “A new Senate budget proposal is a step in the right direction.”
The 2018-2019 Senate Affordable Housing and Homelessness Proposal was approved on May 16th by a Senate Budget and Fiscal Review subcommittee, and is supported by Senate President Toni Atkins.
The Senate budget proposal includes roughly $2 billion for affordable housing construction, and another $2 billion in funding for programs and housing to address short- and long-term homelessness. It also includes $1 billion over four years for grants to applicant counties to fund interim housing options, rental assistance, capital and operating subsidies.
Even though California’s economy is now the fifth largest in the world, it has an estimated nightly homeless count of 134,278 people, or a quarter of the United States’ homeless population.
California’s crisis of homelessness is occurring against the backdrop of a worsening affordable housing crisis. Governor Jerry Brown’s elimination of redevelopment agencies in 2012 dealt a severe blow to the production of affordable housing statewide. According to the latest Housing Need Report by the California Housing Partnership, the state has a deficit of 1.5 million affordable rental homes – nearly 570,000 in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County confronted its local homeless crisis by implementing Measure H, a quarter-cent special sales tax over 10 years that voters approved in March 2017 to end and prevent homelessness. It is expected to generate approximately $355 million annually to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness within five years and prevent homelessness for 30,000 others.
The County has also strived to address the housing shortfall by setting aside its own General Funds, and leveraging other public funds, to construct affordable and special needs housing through the County’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.