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County tax could house, aid 45k homeless

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Of all the measures on March 7 ballot for Los Angeles County, only Measure H, approved by voters, will impact the entire county.

The measure will add a 0.25 percent sales tax for 10 years to fund homeless services and prevention.

The measure won 585,905 yes votes, adding up to 69.34 percent, which passes the two-thirds majority threshold for the measure to be approved. It received 259,098 no votes, adding up to 30.66 percent.

The revenue from the sales tax will be earmarked for services for mental health, substance abuse treatment, health care, education, job training, housing, transportation, outreach and prevention, according to the text of the measure.

It would also form a five-member Citizens’ Oversight Advisory Board, which will review spending twice a year.

Supporters of Measure H include several businesses, organizations, religious leaders and the Los Angeles Times.

“In just the first five years, the proceeds of Measure H would enable 45,000 families (or) individuals to exit homelessness into permanent housing and help an additional 30,000 families(or) individuals avoid homelessness,” said the writers of voteyesonh.com.

The Los Angeles Times endorsed Measure H in its editorial “Measure H is key to finally ending homelessness in Los Angeles County” on March 3.

The newspaper’s editorial board wrote that the measure would fund financial services for adults on the verge of homelessness, something already offered to families.

Although no official argument against Measure H was submitted, opponents of the measure expressed concern over its effectiveness.

“If you vote YES on Measure H you are committing yourself to pay $4,960 in eight years plus an undetermined amount for cost of living increase each year,” said the writers of
noparceltaxes.org.

KCET, in an analysis called Measure H in 90 Seconds, said that some oppose the measure because homeless organizations and charities spend their money poorly and “let homelessness get out of hand in the first place,” and the measure does not do enough to solve the problem of homelessness.

Julissa Espinoza, temporary administrative coordinator of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement and a volunteer for the Los Angeles Homeless Count, said she supported Measure H because she believes it will increase funding for the housing of homeless people.

“When you give people that opportunity to not be on the streets, and (to have) some sort of same space, that builds up self esteem,” Espinoza said. “It’s one step further to getting out of your situation.”

The services that Measure H funds comply with the “Approved Strategies to Combat Homelessness,” which the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiated wrote. The document can be found at lacounty.gov.

The full text of Measure H can be found at lavote.net.

– Aryn Plax

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