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County Approves Record Budget to Fight Homelessness

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By Jorge Casuso

February 7, 2023 -- One month after declaring a state of emergency on homelessness, the LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a record $609.7 million budget to tackle the growing crisis.

The one-year spending plan -- which will kick in July 1 -- represents a $61.8 million increase over the current budget, an 11 percent hike.

The Board also allocated an additional $76.9 million to expand housing and "innovative new services" provided in collaboration with local cities, such a Santa Monica.

“We are directing an unprecedented amount of funding to our efforts to address the homelessness crisis, but money alone isn’t enough,” said Board Chair Janice Hahn.

“More important is putting our resources behind the right strategies, investing in interim housing and supportive services so we can be better equipped to move people out of encampments and indoors, and acting with the urgency this crisis demands.”

The budget unanimously approved on Tuesday "will help fund a heightened focus on three key missions for the County in collaboration with cities and other local partners," County officials said. They are:

  • Reducing encampments to bring unsheltered people indoors,

  • Increasing interim and permanent housing placements, and

  • Ramping up mental health and substance use disorder services for people experiencing homelessness.

The budget is funded by Measure H -- a ¼-cent sales tax approved by County voters in 2017 -- and state Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants.

The budget includes funding to provide services for 22,130 permanent supportive housing (PSH) units that serve those with chronic medical and behavioral health conditions and to expand the total inventory by 4,630 units.

The County will use more than $60 million in "time-limited rental subsidies to quickly house people who have recently become homeless and offer them services until they can gradually take on the rent themselves."

Funding will also be used to add 5,029 interim housing beds to the 20,000 already being provided by programs, cities and agencies "to bring people indoors from encampments as quickly as possible."

The budget earmarks $25.5 million to work with local jurisdictions --which include 88 cities and Councils of Governments (COGs) -- to resolve encampments and co-invest in housing.

The additional $76.9 million the Board approved includes funding for a newly established Local Solutions Fund (LSF) "that can be tapped by cities and COGs" to close encampments and move the homeless into housing.

For that purpose, $20 million will be allocated this year and an additional $5 million will be earmarked for the Cities and COGs Interim Housing Fund (CCOGIHS).

"Our success in permanently reducing encampments relies on the collaboration of our partners in city government," said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell.

That includes "not just the big cities, but all of the local jurisdictions that are desperate to move people off the streets and into housing."

Funding will also be earmarked to "end homelessness for women and families residing on Skid Row" and to assist 300 people living in recreational vehicles "find safer housing solutions and to dismantle inoperable RVs."

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