On March 7th, 69% of the voters of the County of Los Angeles approved a one-quarter cent sales tax over 10 years that will raise $355 million annually for homeless services and rental assistance, including funding to prevent homelessness. Shelter Partnership has worked on trying to solve homelessness for more than 30 years; this is the first time that the County has asked voters for funding to implement on a large scale proven solutions to this challenging social issue.
Immediately after passing Measure H, the Board of Supervisors convened a 50-member Steering Committee to develop a funding plan for the first year’s efforts, and a tentative funding plan for years 2 and 3. Ruth Schwartz, Shelter Partnership’s Founder and Executive Director, played a leadership role on the Committee.
Highlights of the Measure H plan include funding to provide supportive services in permanent supportive housing, such as case management and mental health treatment, which will complement LA City’s recent passage of Proposition HHH to develop as many as 10,000 permanent supportive housing units. Additionally, there is funding for rental assistance should federal subsidies be insufficient. The plan also funds a program to provide landlords with incentive payments to rent units to homeless households in the private market.
Another innovative program will address the increase in the unsheltered homeless population. Outreach teams throughout LA County will engage people living in encampments, in automobiles and RVs, as well as those alone on the streets. These teams are comprised of nurses, case managers, mental health workers, alcohol/drug specialists, and persons with lived experience, and have proven very successful in effectively engaging individuals to accept services and placement in interim and permanent housing.
Shelter Partnership has been working on the design of some of the funded programs, including a program to avoid evictions of households in imminent danger of becoming homeless. The program has three coordinated components: legal assistance, financial assistance, and case management. We have also developed the program design for providing legal assistance on matters that impede an individual’s or family’s ability to secure housing or employment. We are currently finalizing the design of a representative payee program to assist disabled individuals who are now in permanent supportive housing, but are unable to financially manage their Federal Disability payments, and are thus at-risk of losing their housing. The representative payee program has been successfully operated locally on a small scale; Measure H funding will allow many more individuals to receive this valuable assistance on a voluntary basis at no charge.
Some programs will undoubtedly be scaled up, and new programs may be developed to address the need. Shelter Partnership will continue to be involved in the process of refining and enhancing countywide efforts to collaboratively solve homelessness.