By Doug McCormick
Special to the Palisades News
For the past several years, the Palisades News and other local news sources have often reported on the success of our nonprofit Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH), whose goal is to tackle and alleviate the challenges posed by, and faced by the homeless population in Pacific Palisades.
Aided by a sturdy group of community volunteers, we’ve made strong connections with the police, the fire department and the justice system. At the same time, successful fundraising enabled us to engage two full-time social workers who move among homeless persons, offering to connect them to overnight shelter, meals, medical or psychiatric care and temporary housing that could lead to a permanent home. What we’ve accomplished is now serving as a model for other communities, including Malibu.
Those of us who have served on the board of directors since PPTFH’s start in the fall of 2014 are strongly in favor of Measure H, which will be on the March 7 ballot.
Last November, voters approved Measure HHH to secure a $1.2-billion bond that would develop housing for L.A.’s homeless population.
And now you’re wondering why this new Measure H is asking for more money—$350 million—to pay for additional services to help the homeless.
Measure H addresses a different situation.
About 10 years ago, the federal government changed its approach to ending homelessness by adopting a “Housing First” or a Permanent Supportive Housing policy.
In 2015, the City of Los Angeles created the Homelessness and Poverty Committee. Meanwhile, L.A. County introduced its own homeless initiative.
On Feb. 9, 2016, after months of extensive planning, both entities released formal reports with strategies calculated to both prevent and end homelessness.
The city’s Measure HHH was intended to create approximately 10,000 units of affordable housing. However, the proceeds from this bond can be used only for “bricks and mortar”—not operations or services.
Services that need be funded in order to provide permanent supportive housing include mental health; substance abuse treatment; health care; education; job training; and transportation; as well as supportive assistance to homeless children, families, foster youth, veterans, battered women, seniors and disabled persons.
To address those needs, the County Supervisors placed Measure H on the ballot. If it passes, it will impose a quarter-cent sales tax to help pay for those services.
A three-way partnership is planned. The city will develop homeless housing; HACLA (Housing Authority of the City of L.A.) will provide rental subsidies for homeless persons; and the county will provide services. The county’s Measure H will have a Citizen’s Oversight Advisory Board.
The county has provided a website to explain its Homeless Initiative (homeless.lacounty.gov). And voteyesonh.com has a fact sheet with additional information. The leadership of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness urges Palisadians to go to their polling place or mail their ballot in full support of Measure H.
(Editor’s note: The author is president of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness.)