Homelessness has been a major issue in Los Angeles for decades. The city has taken numerous steps in the past few years to alleviate the crisis, and Measure H is necessary to keep that progress going.
Nearly 47,000 people in LA County were homeless in 2016, and 74 percent of them were unsheltered. This problem extends to nearly every neighborhood in the city, including our own – Westwood Village saw an increase of 10 homeless individuals in 2016 from the previous year.
In response to the crisis, the city council approved a $1.85 billion plan in February 2016 to provide long-term housing for homeless individuals. In addition, voters passed Measure HHH in November, providing crucial funds to construct affordable housing in LA.
However, homelessness is a two-pronged problem. On the one hand, there is not enough affordable housing, but on the other hand homeless individuals direly need services like mental-health care and job training. While Measure HHH helps address the housing aspect of the issue, Measure H will help fund the equally important services that help homeless individuals transition back into society.
While this board strongly believes in the importance of this measure to support homeless individuals, the use of a sales tax to fund these services raises a concern. Sales taxes are an inherently regressive form of taxation and hurts the poor the most. Although a 0.25 percent increase is minimal, we caution against the urge to increase sales taxes every time a city initiative requires funding.
Nonetheless, in this case the small tax increase is well worth the dividends Measure H would not only pay our homeless population, but the entire city.