LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday proclaimed Friday “Everyone In Day,” to recognize the start of a United Way-led program aimed at shifting residents’ attitudes about allowing housing for the homeless in their neighborhoods.
With the number of homeless people growing dramatically and with sprawling street encampments cropping up under overpasses, on hillsides and along neighborhood sidewalks, the problem has commanded more dollars and more attention.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas reminded the audience at the board’s meeting that Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of voters approving Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax to fund services for the homeless. Measure H is expected to raise $355 million annually to fight homelessness.
But money isn’t the only obstacle to addressing the crisis.
“The question of homelessness is not going away without a fight,” Ridley-Thomas said, describing Everyone In as a 10-year campaign “to harness the energies of Measure H and nurture the public will, so that community residents can be a part of a comprehensive set of solutions to confront the homeless crisis.”
There are 57,794 homeless individuals countywide, based on the last published count in 2017. And more than two-thirds of voters backed Measure H, leaving officials to believe they had a political mandate to build more housing.
Backers of the Everyone In campaign, which includes business owners, labor leaders, community groups and nonprofit organizations, hope to change those attitudes through education and outreach.
“There’s a lot of talk about NIMBYs (not in my backyard) but we want to start talking about YIMBYs (yes, in my backyard),” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “Everyone In means we’re all responsible for this.”
The county’s goal is to help 45,000 people escape homelessness over five years and prevent another 30,000 from becoming homeless using Measure H funds.
Since last July, county outreach teams have connected with 7,500 individuals living on the street and been able to connect 3,000 people to services, according to Ridley-Thomas.
A total of 3,350 homeless families and individuals have been moved into permanent housing with Measure H funding, according to Phil Ansell, who heads the county’s homeless initiative.
The county recently approved nine projects, including one in Lancaster, that would add more than 400 units of housing for homeless individuals.
However, a recent report by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated that the county has less than half the number of permanent supportive housing units it needs for homeless individuals, falling more than 22,000 units short.