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The state’s failure to get the homeless tax on the ballot

The state’s failure to get the homeless tax on the ballot

L.A. voters approved more money to fight homelessness. Now they want to see results, and the state has pledged to match their investment. (John Munson/L.A. Times)

When the Los Angeles Times asked L.A. County voters for a homeless tax on the Nov. 8 ballot, many of them looked at each other and knew that if they approved it, they would be required by state law to give voters a chance to approve a follow-up initiative – a sort of ballot measure – to add more permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.

So they gave just what they thought would be the maximum they would need to finance that work, and they expected the state to match their investment, if they could get it.

But when the L.A. Times called the state Department of General Services, which oversees Measure HHH, the state said it would commit only $10 million, or a fraction of its promised $25 million, to start the projects that would be part of their funding.

State agencies have come to believe that $10 million may not be enough to keep up the ambitious work that the Times described.

“We had our eyes on a grand total, which would cover a couple of years of funding,” said Gary Jones, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, who declined to elaborate on the discussions that preceded the Dec. 3 decision.

The state’s actions also signal a problem: The system for getting public money to the homeless may be failing the state and the city, which has given the most in the nation to help the chronically homeless.

“We are certainly disappointed that we did not get that match,” said Jeff Koba, executive director of the Homeless Youth Council of Los Angeles. “It was not just about money but the political will in the state to do this work.” “It underscores yet again that we need to do much better about getting housing units built,” said City Councilmember Paul Koretz, who sponsored the homeless tax, saying the city will continue to work without outside support. “We need to show residents and voters

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