Los Angeles/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 20, 2024
Los Angeles County Voters to Decide on Half-Cent Sales Tax for Homelessness Services in November BallotSource: Unsplash/Jean-Luc Benazet

The future of funding for homelessness services in Los Angeles County is set to be determined by voters this November after a proposed ballot measure secured enough signatures to qualify. This measure, aiming to replace the current quarter-cent sales tax with a more robust half-cent indefinite sales tax, is anticipated to generate $1.2 billion annually for homelessness prevention and services, as per ABC7.

Submitted signatures were verified by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's Office, confirming the initiative's eligibility for the November ballot. More than 410,000 signatures were collected, well over the required 238,922, as reported by Long Beach Post. The measure now proceeds to the Board of Supervisors who will decide whether it should be put to a vote or enacted directly.

If passed, the new measure would repeal Measure H, which was introduced in 2017 and is set to expire in 2027. It introduces no sunset date, making the funding stream a long-term solution for the county's homelessness crisis. This proposed change reflects a growing consciousness of the deep-seated issues surrounding homelessness, including the need for mental health care, affordability in housing, and a results-driven approach as articulated by Miguel Santana, CEO of the California Community Foundation. "We need to fundamentally change how we approach our homelessness and housing crisis," Santana said, "and this measure does that by focusing on mental health care, housing affordability, and legal requirements that we see results," in a statement obtained by ABC7.

Long Beach could see significant benefits from the new tax measure with the possibility of increased sales tax revenue. Due to the state's sales tax ceiling, Long Beach is presently limited to imposing a .5% sales tax through Measure A, which is in place for public safety and infrastructure. However, if Measure H is repealed, Long Beach could potentially leverage the full 1% for Measure A. This adjustment could bring in an additional $24 million in revenue each year for Long Beach as a result of special state legislation passed in 2023. According to the Long Beach Post, backers of the new tax measure see it as a "game changer" for the county and its approach to addressing the homelessness crisis. The coalition behind the proposal includes over 80 organizations united in their commitment to increase funding for affordable housing and expand access to mental health and substance abuse treatment while emphasizing accountability.