LA County may place measure to double homeless-prevention sales tax on November ballot

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next week will consider placing on the November ballot an initiative that would repeal the county’s quarter-cent sales tax for homelessness-prevention measures and replace it with an indefinite half-cent sales tax to be used for the same purpose.

On Tuesday, the county Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office announced that backers of the Affordable Housing, Homelessness Solutions and Prevention Now measure had collected enough valid signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

Supporters of the measure said last month they submitted more than 410,000 petition signatures, well above the required 238,922.

With signatures verified, the issue will move to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The board will have the choice of immediately placing the initiative on the November ballot, or requesting a full report on the measure, which would be brought back within 30 days to the board, which will then place the measure on the ballot.

The proposed ballot measure would repeal Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax approved by county voters in 2017, and replace it with a half-cent sales tax to create a dedicated stream of revenue to address homelessness. Measure H had a 10-year lifespan, meaning it is set to expire in 2027.

The new proposed measure, if approved by voters, would not have a sunset date.

Backers say the new initiative would be a game changer for the county and its approach to addressing the homelessness crisis. Proponents have said the measure would produce $1.2 billion annually.

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The coalition of supporters includes more than 80 organizations such as the L.A. County Federation of Labor, California Community Foundation, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, SEIU 721, among others.

They aim to focus more funding generated by the half-cent sales tax to build more affordable housing, increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, and bolster accountability measures — including a legal requirement to deliver results.

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The proposed ballot measure notes that 60% of the revenue would cover costs for homelessness services and 15% of that would be distributed to cities based on the annual point-in-time count of homeless people. Another 35.75% would support the L.A. County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency, which was created last year by the state Legislature to oversee homeless solutions.

“We need to fundamentally change how we approach our homelessness and housing crisis, and this measure does that by focusing on mental health care, housing affordability and legal requirements that we see results,” Miguel Santana, CEO of the California Community Foundation and a former Los Angeles city administrative officer, said in a statement.

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