LOS ANGELES – In politics the phrase “follow the money” is uttered when questionable situations arise when millions in taxpayer dollars are shelled out with little to nothing to show for it.
In 2016, Los Angeles taxpayers overwhelmingly approved Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond, to address the rising homeless numbers produced through annual “homeless count” surveys.
The media got on board with providing nonstop coverage of nonprofits seeking to “perform the work”, and in those photo ops, they stood proudly next to elected officials, spearheading the measure’s passage.
Measure HHH was championed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, and co-written by LA Councilmembers Jose Huizar and Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
Harris-Dawson described HHH as:
“A measure on the L.A. city ballot to fund a bond to build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing and provide several million dollars for affordable housing in the city of Los Angeles. “
The measure proposed to house 13,000 people, despite data released six months before the November vote by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the homeless population rose by 6 percent in L.A. County to 46, 874. The same census also found that the number of homeless women increased by 55 percent between 2013 and 2016.
How was $1.2 billion enough?
In fact, data shows that between 2010 to 2019, the number of homeless increased by 39%, while pay to executives/directors of nonprofits charged with performing the work, increased by 104%.
According to the City of Los Angeles, in 2016, the cost of one of the housing units is about $350,000. On average the City will finance about a third of each unit. Also, once the tenant has moved in, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) provides vouchers to help with rent and some operating costs. When able, the tenant pays 30 to 40 percent of their gross monthly income on rent.
The costs per door rose to a staggering $800,000 per door, with a new housing complex set to open in Venice, if approved, with costs of up to $1 million per door.
Then Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas took $250,000 from his Mark Ridley-Thomas Committee for a Better L.A., to put towards the measure passing. This is the same campaign account used to make a dubious contribution to USC on behalf of his son Sebastian.
In return, Ridley-Thomas received $84,343, which was from contractors, for profit and nonprofit, and the contractors’ employees, who received money from Measure H.
The “homeless industrial complex” involves over a 100 nonprofits, and contractors, who are raising their salaries faster than the housing they are supposed to be building, and the shelters they are to be providing.
A closer look at the salaries and objectives of the nonprofits charged with addressing the homeless crisis, on behalf of LA County under Measure H.