LA County supervisors place homeless funding measure on 2017 ballot

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Thursday, December 8, 2016
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Following public pressure, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the placement of a homelessness funding measure in the March 2017 ballot.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A packed house greeted the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' newest members Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.

More than 200 people urged the supervisors to approve a county-wide homelessness funding measure.

"Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, but it is also a moral crisis," one speaker said.

In a unanimous decision, the board agreed to put that measure on the March 2017 ballot. If approved by voters, the initiative will add a 1/4-cent sales tax to tackle homelessness, which has been on the rise over the last three years.

"There was a 19 percent increase in homelessness just over that three-year period. We think that that's unprecedented here in the county of Los Angeles," assistant CEO of L.A. County, Fesia Davenport, said.

The tax will generate $355 million a year for rental subsidies, housing and services, such as mental illness and substance abuse support, for the estimated 47,000 homeless people in the county.

"Once we're able to address those populations we hope that the overall numbers of homelessness will decrease," Davenport said.

The tax will sunset in 10 years, giving county leaders and voters the opportunity to reassess the issue.

"Voters are sympathetic to the need to address homelessness, but they also want accountability," Davenport said. "The idea was to have best of both worlds, to have this measure adopted, and then let's see what happens during the 10 years."