In March, voters in Los Angeles County approved Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase to fight homelessness. During the next three years, about $355 million annually will go to provide short-term rental subsidies and services, open more shelters and expand interim housing for the chronically homeless waiting for permanent homes and provide services for those in permanent housing.
This comes on the heels of the city’s Proposition HHH that passed in November. It authorized $1.2 billion in bonds to build about 10,000 units of housing for homeless and low-income people over the next 10 years.
Mary Agnes Erlandson, director of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles’ St. Margaret’s Center in Lenox, has high hopes for both, especially the county measure. “I don’t know how HHH is going to impact us, although more housing would be great,” she told Angelus News. “But Measure H I’m really excited about. I think it’s exciting just to be able to anticipate more funding, to be able to try things to make a dent in homelessness.
“I was really surprised when Measure H passed, you know, for people to vote for a tax increase. Before, homelessness was confined to certain areas like Skid Row. But now everyone sees it in every city. So it’s on people’s consciousness and people want to resolve it.”
Erlandson admits, however, that it’s also a “little scary.”
“Because with the influx in money, which starts flowing in July, people are going to expect to not see homeless people around the city and county. But it’s going to take time. Getting people off the street — especially the chronic homeless — is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight.”