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L.A. County supervisors support city bond measure for homeless housing construction

Homeless in Los Angeles
Zac Lee, 25, foreground, and friend Naomi Rosario, 22, who are both homeless, rest on the sidewalk at Venice Beach last month.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to throw their support behind a city bond measure that would raise $1.2 billion to build new housing for the homeless.

City and county officials passed a pair of plans early this year to address the growing problem of homelessness, but have both been casting about for ways to fund more housing and services in the long term.

The county budgeted an additional $100 million this year for homeless efforts, and city officials said they plan to spend $138 million, but the source of ongoing funding remains unclear.

County supervisors considered several possible tax options for the November ballot, but ultimately opted not to place a tax before voters in the general election. City officials did opt to place a bond measure on the ballot. If approved, the money would be used to build permanent supportive housing for homeless people.

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The bond measure needs the support from two-thirds of voters to pass and would increase property taxes by an estimated $44.31 a year for a home assessed at $327,900, the median in Los Angeles.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who proposed the county measure of support for the bond measure, wrote that the tax, if passed, “would allow the region to accelerate the pace of [housing] production and make a significant dent in homelessness.”

Ridley-Thomas also called on city officials to support the county in raising funds for expanded services, including mental health and addiction counseling and housing vouchers for the formerly homeless. The city bond proceeds could be used to pay for construction of housing units only.

He has said that he hopes to put a county sales tax measure on the March ballot to pay for services.

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“Units without services is a half-loaf at best,” Ridley-Thomas said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who urged the board to give its “full support” behind the city measure, told the supervisors that city officials would back a county ballot effort.

“I guarantee that the work that you’re doing, we will be there in turn to support what you do, whether it’s on the ballot, whether it’s here in these august chambers,” Garcetti said.

The supervisors were divided in the vote to support the city measure, with Ridley-Thomas, Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl voting in favor, while supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe, who frequently oppose raising taxes, abstained.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

Twitter: @sewella

 

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