A New Day in LA County: A Budget Based on Equity

Just two months after the establishment of an Antiracist Policy Agenda for the County of Los Angeles—and despite the unprecedented loss in anticipated revenues—the Board of Supervisors continued to drive toward a more equitable County with the approval of the 2020-21 Supplemental Budget. Instilled with racial and economic justice principals to reduce disparities and elevate the quality of life for underserved communities, this is an equity-based budget. It represents a new day and a new way to improve the lives of the most vulnerable residents in the County.

Largely through the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, this budget includes funding for the County’s emergency response to COVID-19, including testing, contact tracing, rent relief, eviction defense, food distribution, and small businesses grants and loans to help families and businesses stay afloat.

As the County enters the ninth month of the pandemic, the danger COVID-19 represents to persons experiencing homeless remains significant. This budget funds complementary emergency short term solutions. Since the onset of the pandemic more than 4,000 of the most vulnerable, elderly persons experiencing homeless have been brought indoors—protecting their lives and safeguarding the public health. And concrete steps are being taken to place them on a path to safe and stable, long-term housing.

The budget further de-emphasizes the punitive, and reemphasizes health, rehabilitation, and prevention. It adds $30M to the Office of Diversion and Re-Entry (ODR), bringing the total 2020-2021 budget to $150M. A significant program that is proven effective in reducing recidivism, and breaking the cycle between jail and homelessness by connecting people to community based clinical care and supportive housing with wrap around services. The budget also includes $72.3M to launch the Alternatives to Incarceration and make a cohesive vision of a system of care that promotes health and safety a reality. The budget will further establish the Probation Oversight Commission along with a dedicated investigative unit within in the Inspector General’s Office to shine more light through robust oversight and achieve greater accountability.

As the County enters this new day, antiracism is becoming the new normal, putting care first and jail last, remaining steadfast in the unrelenting commitment to fight homelessness, and investing in thriving arts and cultural communities.

As the largest and most diverse county in the nation, the County must ensure that budgetary investments of more than $37 billion offer the best returns for its communities. We are putting the values of equity to work and they will lead the way.