Back in November, City of Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly (by 76 percent) approved Proposition HHH. It authorized $1.2 billion in bonds to build 10,000 units of housing for homeless people. 

On March 7, voters in Los Angeles County will go to the polls to approve or deny a closely related matter. Measure H is a quarter-cent sales tax to fund a variety of items to reduce homelessness in the Southland. The major efforts are wraparound services for people living in the new housing units, more outreach workers, rental subsidies plus short-term interventions to help people stay housed.

It’s projected that Measure H would produce $3.55 billion over a decade for homeless programs. This would pay for social and clinical workers as well as job and addiction counselors for chronically homeless people. And it also includes renting thousands of apartments, temporary housing for those waiting to get into permanent housing, employment services and help for people leaving jails and hospitals. The overall plan, however, is still in the works.

“HHH passed, and we were all for that,” said Andy Bales, CEO of the Union Rescue Mission on L.A.’s Skid Row. “That will begin to produce buildings, but so far hasn’t. So that’s a little bit of a worry of mine. And I hope that people don’t think we’ve got to the finish line. I think somehow in Los Angeles people might think, ‘Oh, we voted to reduce homelessness, so we’re finished.’ Because this is just the first step, and we haven’t begun to step.

“And Measure H on March 7 will produce the services that are so much needed for the people once the buildings are built — and even services beginning now,” he pointed out. “So HHH, the buildings, without the services will go for naught. Because without the services, we won’t have accomplished anything. So this is the crucial vote now for services.”