A Voter Initiative to Address LA's Affordable Housing and Homelessness Crisis
As of April, near the end of our signature gathering drive, at least 115 organizations (up from 28 when we took this photo at our press conference below) had joined our effort to unite Angelenos around a citizen's initiative to address LA’s housing and homelessness crises—many of them advocates for people who are homeless, for tenants rights, and for more affordable housing, and also labor organizations.
The measure we propose would raise more than $800 million/year in the City of Los Angeles with a tax on high-end real estate sales to invest in strategies to reduce and prevent homelessness and in the affordable housing that is so desperately needed in our communities.
This investment would benefit people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless, as well as very-low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities who pay an excessive share of their income for rent. And it would respond to so many LA residents who have expressed their concerns about the situation.
If this measure is approved by voters we could proudly say that the people of Los Angeles measured up to the challenge of homelessness both morally and financially.
Only sellers of high-end properties costing more than $5 million would pay this one-time tax on real estate transactions. These are people who have benefited greatly from the opportunities and resources available in Los Angeles and the consequent increase in land values, at the same time that others are tossed into homelessness by the rapidly rising rents inherent in this real estate roulette.
Please read on to find out more! The details are at the links below:
- United to House LA Quick Summary
- United to House LA 17-page slidedeck
- HOUSE LA Final Revised Ballot Title and Summary APPROVED FOR CIRCULATION.pdf
Homelessness is not inevitable. Matt Tinoco recently wrote in his LA Podcast newsletter that "People fall out of housing for any number of individual reasons, but poverty is the single common thread in almost every situation . . . the results of the 2020 homeless count revealed a 50% increase in the number of people who had fallen out of housing compared to the same period leading up to the 2019 count.
“To put a number on it,” he continued, “the 2020 count estimated that 227 people fall into homelessness every day in LA County, while 207 people exit homelessness for housing. And that was before the pandemic which . . . has exasperated the underlying stresses and circumstances that lead to any individual person or family having to move into their car, or worse.”
Matt was writing this after attending a “State of Homelessness” panel hosted by the LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) which, as he wrote, “communicates clearly the scale of the mismatch between the high cost of living and our region’s high rate of poverty.”
The gravity of the problem:
- LA has a higher percentage of cost-burdened renter households (59%) than any other major U.S. city.
- Wages have fallen far behind the cost of living in LA: 22% of LA families make less than $25,000 per year and 42% make less than $50,000 per year.
- There are 66,000 people experiencing homelessness in LA County.
- Even as we have built new housing for the unhoused with the help, for example, of Proposition HHH (now building 7,300 units of permanent supportive housing), ongoing evictions and expensive rents mean that more and more people lose their homes every day, pushing them into precarious situations.
In order for people experiencing homelessness to move from a shelter into an apartment there needs to be an apartment with a rent that is low enough to allow that person/family to meet other household expenses. LA doesn’t have very many of these apartments.
The goal of our measure is to be able to spend $800 million a year to build 24,000 such affordable homes to house more than 60,000 people, create 43,000 construction jobs, and fund programs that reach out to 460,000 tenants and enforce their rights.
Move LA initiated and convened this effort more than 2 years ago. We were emboldened by our successes with Measures R and M that are raising $120 billion over four decades to build out our transit system, and Measure H to help meet the needs of people who are homeless so they can access key services. We began working with housing experts, social justice advocates and labor leaders on a potential ballot measure that could address the deficiencies in our response to the crisis of homelessness.
The key conclusion was that a ballot measure that provided a significant, permanent funding source was required to support a robust program to build affordable housing could be created where all types of working families could live.
What do you think? Want to join us? Early polling showed broad support, with twice as many voters in support as those who would oppose such a measure. Want to join us in our effort to make LA a livable city for all people? Click HERE!