by Gary Toebben
In November and March, the voters of the City and County of Los Angeles stepped up in an unprecedented way to invest in infrastructure. None of those investments were more critical than the new tax dollars Angelenos agreed to provide to build the infrastructure of compassion, creating needed housing and funding services to meet the challenge of homelessness.
A cornerstone of the compact made between our city and county leaders and the voters was that these new monies would be on top of existing resources. As stake holders and supporters of these ballot measures, we made it clear that HHH and H funds would not be used to backfill current commitments to homeless services. Voters were promised a "maintenance of effort" to effectively deploy new resources for new housing and new services.
The Chamber is very concerned by initial signs that this commitment is not being met. The proposed City of L.A. budget that is currently going through the annual City Council budget review process significantly reduces General Fund appropriation for Homeless priorities. Spending from the General Fund budget for the homeless in the 2016-2017 budget was $65.47 million, yet in the proposed budget for 2017-2018, the amount for homeless programs and services is $36.78 million; a significant reduction of $28.69 million.
There is also a concerning budget signal coming from the County of L.A. In October 2015, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors increased their investment in affordable and supportive housing by $100 million. In February 2017, prior to the March vote, the Board committed that the County would have a "maintenance of effort" in funding and that Measure H revenues would be new resources for expanded efforts. However, recently the L.A. County CEO's office, which produces the draft budget for Board consideration, proposed backfilling $50 million of the $100 million 2015 commitment with Measure H funds.
I was proud to Co-Chair both Measure HHH and Measure H campaigns on behalf of the Chamber and business community at large. During those campaigns, we continuously made a promise to the voters that these new monies would be used to provide new and expanded housing and services for the homeless. The business community calls on the L.A. City Council and County Board of Supervisors to ensure this commitment is met.
And that's The Business Perspective.