The city of Los Angeles has been considering ways to fund a comprehensive plan to combat homelessness since early January. Now, in a unanimous decision, the city council has decided to ask voters to approve a bond measure this November. If passed, the measure will open up $1.2 billion in funds the city will use to construct housing and shelters.
"Less than a year ago the Los Angeles City Council promised action on homelessness," Council President Herb Wesson said in a press release. "Today, after a robust public process, we deliver the fruits of our labor."
Of course, the measure won’t actually produce any funding for action on homelessness unless it’s approved by voters. That’s by no means a done deal. In order for it to pass, two-thirds of November voters must sign off on the measure. Several polls of potential voters tell very different stories about the amount of support the measure is likely to receive. An April poll indicated less than half of city voters would support a tax or bond measure addressing homelessness. A poll conducted just a month later found that 68 percent of voters would support a bond measure. More recent polls indicated that as many as 84 percent would be in favor of the measure.
These rising numbers might indicate the idea of a bond measure is gaining in popularity as the city sees a rise in the most visible forms of homelessness. It could also mean that not enough polling has been conducted to get an accurate read on the measure’s true level of support.
Whatever the case may be, the council will have to begin selling voters on the initiative right away. "This is a historic turning point for the city and now we have to wage a campaign to get voters to support this humane and sensible approach to raise the revenue needed to provide housing," said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson in a press release.
On Friday, the council will vote on whether to put another measure on the ballot that would fund homelessness initiatives through a parcel tax. Since both measures serve the same ends, only one would be included on the November ballot. Should the council approve the parcel tax Friday, they will have until August to decide which measure to submit to voters in November.