The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted on Aug. 3 to place a charter amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot that would guarantee a baseline minimum threshold of 10% of locally generated, flexible revenue to better resource county efforts to expand housing, diversion, and mental health services.
The amendment would mandate that the county spend a minimum of 10% of its flexible, locally generated funds for homeless housing, diversion and mental health services, and provides a three-year ramp-up period for the county to reach the new baseline minimum allocation. The amendment is not a tax and would have no impact on resident taxes.
Los Angeles County’s $34.9 billion budget comes from a combination of local, state and federal sources. The locally generated revenue amounts to $8.8 billion, and of that, $4.9 billion is categorized as flexible dollars. The charter amendment, if approved by voters, would result in an estimated reallocation of $360 million to $490 million of flexible, locally generated revenue.
In the county’s current budget, one in five of every tax dollar goes to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, while programs that are central to the county’s “care first, jails last” approach are receiving more modest allocations of locally generated funds. For instance, the Office of Diversion and Reentry, which is the centerpiece of the County’s diversion efforts and has safely diverted more than 5,500 men and women since 2015, will receive $58 million of locally generated funds this year, while Housing for Health, a flagship county housing program which has provided housing and services to more than 12,000 men and women since 2012, will receive $20.8 million.
The motion to create the charter amendment was authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, 3rd District.
“It’s time to bring our budget into alignment with our actions, intentions and vision,” Kuehl said. “The supervisors have said we want to move people from custody to care, and our constituents are pleading with us to expand housing and treatment options and stop relying on punitive, outdated law enforcement tactics. The board is prepared to make a long-term commitment to this effort, so we’re asking voters, as required for a charter amendment, ‘are you with us?’”
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