Angelenos took historic steps toward ending homelessness with the approval of Measure H this month and Prop HHH in November. And we don’t use the word “historic” lightly. Among the many firsts:
- The $1.2 billion secured by Prop HHH is the largest bond measure ever in the U.S. to end homelessness specifically
- Prop HHH received the highest support of any municipal bond in L.A. history
- Measure H is the first revenue measure OF ANY KIND to appear on the county ballot in March
These two key votes occurred just four months apart, but were ten years in the making. United Way of Greater Los Angeles has been privileged enough to not only have a seat at the table during those ten years, but often sat at the head of that table -- giving us a unique ability to account for all it took to get us where we are today.
2007: SETTING AN AUDACIOUS GOAL
Ten years ago, policymakers spoke about “managing” homelessness, instead of “ending” homelessness in L.A. County. This resulted in the City of L.A. and the county working separately, challenges in securing federal funding, and business leaders hesitant to step into the fight. With the success of United Way’s HomeWalk in 2007, civic and business leaders saw the grassroots support of ending homelessness and began to come together.
2009: BUSINESS & PHILANTHROPY JOIN
United Way worked with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to structure the efforts of business leaders by creating the Business Leaders Taskforce -- a group that has since shown a humbling level of commitment, including meeting every single month for the last eight years (regularly at United Way headquarters). The concerted efforts of business leaders and the support of their companies’ employees continued the groundswell of support for larger changes in the fight against homelessness.
2010: AN ACTION PLAN
Home For Good, a community-driven initiative started by United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Business Leaders Taskforce, built an action plan for ending homelessness, including advocating federal officials to change the antiquated Fair Share formula for distributing funds. But federal officials wanted proof that the city of Los Angeles and the county could pool their efforts effectively. United Way took a leadership role in forming the policies to make that happen.
2012: A STEP FORWARD
Improved policies and systems, including the Coordinated Entry System, resulted in the time it took to get someone from the street into a supportive housing unit down from 160 days to only 100 days. The community-based systems spearheaded by United Way would become a best-practice and national model used in more than 25 major cities.
2015: TRUTH IN NUMBERS
While veteran homelessness had gone down an incredible 60% over the previous five years, the broader issue of homelessness wasn’t seeing as dramatic a level of success. With permanent supportive housing showing a 90% success rate and proving 43% cheaper than someone staying on the street, the question wasn’t “How to end homelessness?” The question was “How to fund thousands of people instead of hundreds?”
2016: A VOTER MANDATE
With the November 2016 Los Angeles municipal vote on Prop HHH came the true test: would voters back up their voices with action? And act they did with an overwhelming 76% of voters supporting the measure that will bring $1.2 billion in funds for community-based supportive housing.
2017: THE TIPPING POINT
Just four months later, the similarly named Measure H gave L.A. County voters a chance to add to the support of the city’s Prop HHH success. Once again, voters stepped up and approved Measure H, which is projected to add about $355 million annually for supportive services that will end homelessness for 45,000 people and prevent homelessness for another 30,000.
Together, we made it happen. Now, together, we will work together to end it.