As the 2016-17 winter shelter season geared up, I wrote a post about why Ascencia had not applied to operate a winter shelter program in Glendale. Since then, the weather turned much wetter and colder than expected, our winter shelter operated with Recycled Resources in Highland Park has been full, and now the City and County of Los Angeles have extended the winter shelter program through March 31st. If you want to volunteer to help that program through the end of March, contact Recycled Resources here.
In the earlier post, I promised to follow up on the challenges of funding homeless programs. I will get to that, but not yet.
Next Tuesday, Los Angeles County voters have an opportunity to pass Measure H, which would increase the sales tax in LA County by ¼ cent to fund homeless programs. Ascencia supports Measure H and we hope that it passes. By generating approximately $350 million a year in revenue for homeless services, this would be an unprecedented investment.
With such large sums of money to be distributed, we need to be vigilant about where the funding goes and the impact it has. Here are some things to know about Measure H:
- a. Measure H is connected to a countywide plan to combat homelessness. This plan draws on over twenty years of local planning and federal investment in systems to address homelessness. It identifies 48 County strategies to increase the reach of housing and services to more homeless people, and improve the effectiveness of agencies coordinating and tracking how services are used.
- b. The plan relies on a network of organizations that are increasingly professional and focused on impact. When nonprofit homeless service providers use these government funds, we have to deliver on key performance measures, such as: shortening the duration of homelessness, increasing the number of people moved to permanent housing, keeping people housed longer. We are required to use a standardized assessment tool to prioritize our clients for housing – the sickest people get helped first. We are also part of the Family Solutions network to help homeless families get sheltered and moved to housing as quickly as possible. To make sure tax dollars are spent responsibly, we are regularly monitored not only for program performance but for financial management.
- c. This plan, and Measure H, have oversight provisions. Measure H implementation will be informed by a 50-member advisory body, as well as a five-person oversight committee. They will be crucial to ensuring sound implementation of these programs. We also cannot overlook the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which is governed by a ten-member commission and manages the homeless funding processes for the County. At the end of this chain, we have the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, fully invested in ensuring the Measure H funding yields results.
Measure H needs 2/3 vote in support to win. I promise to get back to the subject of funding allocation in my next post, but as I recently said to the Glendale City Council (also a Measure H supporter), if Measure H does not pass, we won’t have to worry about how the money will be spent. Be sure to vote yes on H, and help us have a greater impact in moving people off the streets and into housing, jobs, and the services they need to succeed.