LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Some of Los Angeles’ homeless might get a helping hand from voters when Measure H is decided at the polls March 7.
With unaffordable housing, low salaries and mental health issues forcing more people to live on the streets, the county is looking to address the homeless issue with a proposed sales tax increase.
Measure H would increase the sales tax in Los Angeles County by 0.25 percent for 10 years in order to fund homeless services and prevention.
Measure H proponent Demetrious Reid worked in customer service for a health insurance company for 15 years before he was laid off in 2012. Then he lost his home.
“I was in a car for about 60 days just absorbing the impact,” Reid told CBS2 Monday.
Reid said he was able to get back to full-time employment with the help of Chrysalis, a nonprofit that helped 2,300 homeless people find work last year in Los Angeles County.
“There are so many people who walk through our doors every day who are just dying to work,” Chrysalis CEO Mark Loranger said.
Loranger says his organization could help even more homeless people find work if he had more case managers to serve them. That, he says, is where Measure H comes in.
“If we’re going to solve this problem, not just with band aids, we need to invest,” Loranger said.
Loranger says there are safeguards built into the measure for accountability, including a citizen’s advisory committee and an annual audit. The money can only be used for homeless services.
There is no organized opposition campaign for Measure H, but it does have its critics.
“This is just another assault on our wallets,” said Jack Humphreville with LA Watch Dog.
Humphreville says the county should come up with the money inside its own $30 billion budget rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill.
“If this is a No. 1 priority for them, which they’ve said a number of times, then it should be a budget priority it shouldn’t be a No. 1 tax priority,” Humphreville said.