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LA County Pushing For Millionaires' Tax to Fight Homelessness

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The one-half percent tax could raise more than $240 million a year if approved

Los Angeles County's homelessness problem extends far and wide, and the LA County Board of Supervisors is trying to do something to help some of the tens of thousands of homeless Angelenos. The supes has just voted (three to two) to ask its reps in Sacramento "to pursue a change in state law to grant counties the authority to seek a ballot measure for a tax on personal income above $1 million a year" that would go towards funding the fight against homelessness in the county, the Daily News reports. Both LA County and LA city have seen a rise in homelessness in the last year, according to a recent homeless count.

The one-half percent tax would first have to be approved by the California Legislature and then by two-thirds of voters in November. But if approved, the move could create an estimated $243 million a year. An April poll found that, of likely voters, 76 percent "would strongly support" the proposed tax come November.

One of the two supes not in favor of the possible tax, Michael D. Antonovich, says he thinks that the money wouldn't help the many people who are homeless and dealing with addiction or mental health issues, saying that "Just having another revenue source to build a house is not addressing the root cause for those people who are mentally or physically ill." (It would help, though, as "housing first" programs in Utah and even in Los Angeles have demonstrated; it's infinitely easier to get steady treatment once in housing, especially supportive housing.)

At the same time as the supes voted to try and find more money to help the homeless, they also voted, this time unanimously, to conduct an audit to see how the county's money is spent on the issue. The audit would be looking especially closely at "the resources allotted to 5 percent of homeless single adults who utilize 40 percent of [county] funding."

Other possible taxes to help raise money to fund homeless services include a marijuana tax and a parcel tax, revenue sources which the city of Los Angeles has also been eyeing.