In March, voters in Los Angeles County approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase to help homeless people. The tax increase went into effect a couple of months after winning voter approval through the ballot initiative known as Measure H.
Overview of the Sales Tax for the Homeless
The sales tax created by Measure H is expected to generate about $355 million a year and will remain in force for 10 years. Thus, the sales tax is projected to generate over $3.5 billion to address the homelessness problem throughout Los Angeles County over the course of the coming decade.
The overall objective of the tax is to assist homeless people transition to into planned, affordable housing. In addition, the tax dollars will also fund other initiatives to assist people in breaking the cycle of homelessness.
Lofty goals are associated with these tax dollars. Advocates of this initiative maintain that these funds will help 45,000 families and individuals escape the grips of homelessness within the coming five years. In addition, the tax dollars will prevent the occurrence of homelessness for an additional 30,000 people.
How La County Cities Will Be Impacted by the Sales Tax
The quarter sales tax impacts people in different communities in the county, depending on how much residents are already paying in sales tax. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration reports that the tax will not go into effect in certain LA county municipalities because these communities already have sales taxes in place that reach the cap allowed by law. The maximum combined sales tax rate anywhere in Los Angeles County is 10.25 percent. The cities that won’t be assessing the new sales tax to benefit the homeless as of this time are:
- La Mirada
- Long Beach
- Pico Rivera
- Santa Monica
- South Gate
If and when an existing sales tax in one of these cities expires, the sales tax for the homeless will be imposed.
How the La County Sales Tax for the Homeless Will Be Spent
Although the ultimate goals have been delineated, work is now underway to develop strategies for how those objectives will be met with the tax money. The development of strategies involves a 50-member planning team and all members of the general public who have an interest in the project.
The planning team consists of:
- Homeless service providers
- Faith leaders
- Officials from different cities
- County officials
The entire planning team has met a couple of times a month since the passage of Measure M in March. In addition, committees comprised of planning team members have been meeting as well.
In addition to planning team and committee meetings, there have been a series of open public meetings of forums. The last one was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles. Over 100 pages of public comments have been received by the planning team.
A focus of these sessions has been on the key strategies encompassed in the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative, which will be discussed in a moment. The strategies in the homeless initiative were approved in 2017 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Specific spending recommendations were developed from these processes for the first three years of the project. These recommendations are subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors, a vote expected to occur directly before the start of summer 2018.
Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative
The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative is an action plan comprised of about four dozen interlocking strategies to combat homeless in the county. The action plan focuses on six key areas:
- Homelessness prevention
- Subsidized housing
- Increased income
- Case management and services
- Coordinates system
- Affordable housing
When it comes to implementing strategies for the expenditure of sales tax dollars to assist the homeless, the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative is the blueprint that is being followed. The six key elements of the action plan, together with the interlocking strategies, were approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2016.
Details about the action plan can be accessed online through this link. Quarterly reports pertaining to the Housing Initiative are also available through the link. In addition, policy and strategy briefs are both available to the public via the link.
More information on the Homeless Initiative, as well as about the expenditure of the sales tax dollars earmarked for helping the homeless across the county, can be obtained by contacting:
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street, Room 493
Los Angeles, California 90012