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.