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Measure H. Failure is Not an Option

By Kerry Morrison

February 9, 2017

What?  Another election? Another Measure H? Didn’t we just vote on this?

Answer:  Yes. Yes. And sort of.

In less than a month, the polls will be open throughout the entire county of Los Angeles, and voters will have a chance to support the second phase of a “one-two” strategy to make a serious dent into our homeless crisis. Measure H will appear on county ballots on March 7 asking voters to authorize a ¼ cent sales tax increase for ten years to raise money for homeless services. It requires a 2/3 vote.

Encampment on Vine near Lexington, in the Sunset & Vine District.

Last November, Measure HHH was the first punch in the one-two punch to end homelessness. City voters overwhelmingly supported (76 percent!) the ten year general obligation bond to fund $1.2B in permanent supportive housing throughout the city of Los Angeles. Measure H is the second, and knock-out punch. The two go hand in hand and both strategies are necessary to make the meaningful dent on a problem that has grown to crisis proportions. Housing + services.

We have to get this passed. Failure is not an option.

Measure H is akin to the software that accompanies the hardware which is the housing provided by HHH. Measure H will fund a ramp up in essential county services that meet people on the street (e.g., coordinated outreach teams, mental health and substance abuse treatment, urgent care psychiatric treatment centers, emergency shelter); help them get housed (case management) and keep them housed (supportive services to help people avoid falling back into homelessness). That is what the county does.

Why should the business community care? I am proud to say that in Hollywood, the business community is “all-in” when it comes to stepping up to address this crisis. Both boards for the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, which manages the Hollywood BID, and the Central Hollywood Coalition, which manages the Sunset BID, voted to lend their name to the list of endorsing organizations for Measure H. Both organizations and their boards have a history of involvement with this issue, supporting local nonprofits, staying involved with the activities of Hollywood 4WRD, and personally volunteering for the homeless count and other boots-on-the-ground activities. Ending homelessness is good for business and essential for a thriving and healthy neighborhood.

Encampment on Selma near Cherokee in the Hollywood Entertainment District.

Here’s a few factoids that might make this more real.

  • The 2016 homeless count identified 47,000 people homeless in the county. Many of us participated in the homeless count on January 26, 2017, and we fear that number may be higher now.
  • Though Skid Row is a place of much suffering, 90 percent of individuals and families experiencing homeless do not live on Skid Row. They are spread throughout the entire county, which is why this funding measure will serve the entire county.
  • The average consumer will pay a little more than a dollar a month to support homeless services through the sales tax.
  • Because Measure H is a special tax, it can only be used for homeless services and there will be a citizen’s oversight committee to hold the county accountable.
  • Since LA has already passed its own bond measure to pay for permanent supportive housing for the homeless, other cities have the option to do something similar. But, again, this funding will support important services that can be quickly deployed to address this problem all over LA County.

“How can I help?” This is a question I am asked over and over. Well-meaning people want to hand out sandwiches, donate clothes, volunteer for food lines. This is all well and good, but for the next five weeks, until election day, the single most meaningful, impactful and effective thing you can do is pledge to vote YES ON H. Tell  your family. Convince your friends.

Here are some specific tools. If you are a fan of social media, take advantage of the social media kit the campaign has created. Use the hashtag #YesonH and #fight4homeless when you communicate. Throughout the county, volunteers will be holding postcard writing parties to target high propensity voters. If you want to find a party near you, or host one at your organization, contact the campaign or Tommy Newman at 323-829-0877 or thomas.p.newman@gmail.com.


Kerry Morrison is executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.  She serves on the United Way/LA Area Chamber Home For Good Task Force and blogs at www.onlyinhollywood.org. @KerryHMorrison

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