Ensuring Collaboration and Accountability in Homeless Funding

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hears testimony on his motion. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

With voters weighing Measure H on March 7, the Board of Supervisors kicked off a collaborative and transparent process for budgeting prospective funds from the ballot initiative so that experts, stakeholders and members of the public have an opportunity to participate in crafting a plan to end homelessness.

The Board unanimously approved a motion by Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl that establishes “an inclusive planning process which draws on the experience, expertise and wisdom of cities, homeless service providers and experts, the faith and business communities, formerly homeless individuals and County departments.”

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Chairman Ridley-Thomas said, “Our objective here is to evidence that we are serious about accountability, serious about transparency, and to be comprehensive as is committed in the ballot language.”

Supervisor Kuehl added, “We can only succeed if we have the input and support of the very civic and community leaders who are going to help us house the 47,000 people currently homeless in the County.” 

Measure H is expected to raise about $350 million every year for a decade to provide multidimensional services and housing assistance for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. If approved by two-thirds of the voters, Measure H would generate funds to provide the homeless with, among other services:

• mental health and substance abuse treatments
• health care
• education and job training
• rental and housing subsidies
• case management and services
• emergency and affordable housing
• transportation
• outreach, prevention and supportive services for homeless children, families, foster youth, veterans, battered women, seniors, disabled individuals and other homeless adults.

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L-R: Phil Ansell, Homeless Initiative; Joseph Altepeter, Downtown Women’s Center; Eva Williams, CSH.

The services would be consistent with the County’s Homeless Initiative which developed 47 strategies for preventing and combatting homelessness after conducting 18 policy summits that brought together more than 1,000 experts and stakeholders.

Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell vowed the budget planning process for Measure H would also be “inclusive, collaborative and transparent,” with meetings open to the public and subject to the Brown Act. 

“To ensure the funding is allocated as fairly and effectively as possible, it is vital that key stakeholders such as service providers, housing and homeless experts, County departments and individuals with lived homeless experiences, are engaged in the process,” Joseph Altepeter, director of vocational education and social enterprise at the Downtown Women’s Center, told the Board.

“It is only through a collaborative and coordinated approach that we will realize success in housing all of our homeless neighbors living throughout Los Angeles,” agreed Eva Williams, Los Angeles director of CSH, a nonprofit organization that helps vulnerable individuals and families.

To ensure accountability, the County Auditor Controller will have an independent auditor regularly report on Measure H spending. A Citizens’ Oversight Advisory Board will also publish a complete accounting of all allocations and submit periodic evaluations.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey, United Way of Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Elise Buik, Los Angeles Business Council president Mary Leslie, New Directions for Veterans President and CEO Yvette Kelley and Children’s Defense Fund-California Executive Director Alex Johnson signed the argument in favor of Measure H. There were no arguments submitted against Measure H. 

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