Our challenge is that people, especially those with low incomes, are paying far too much of their income on housing costs. Los Angeles illustrates what happens when working individuals and families can no longer bear these burdens: more homeless encampments along freeways and major sidewalks, more people packing in to substandard and overcrowded housing, and fewer residents being able to afford to live near the vital resources that make up a strong community—quality transit, healthcare, jobs, education and childcare.
In my day-job at Enterprise Community Partners, I oversee community development, investment and strategic programs from California’s Central Coast to San Diego. As a native Angeleno, I also serve on the boards of non-profits working directly to improve our communities and break the cycle of poverty.
I have spent the past 20 years helping finance and build safe, affordable homes. The housing crisis is real. In order to make a real difference, we need to build quality homes that are affordable and connect them with services. Only this will give the people sleeping on the streets tonight some hope for moving up and out of homelessness, which is why I supported Proposition HHH this past November and why I will support Measure H on our March 7 ballot.
Measure H is a critical county-wide measure that funds homeless prevention programs, supportive services, like mental health care and job training, and long term solutions like permanent housing. Measure H complements Proposition HHH, which builds housing for chronically homeless people and was overwhelmingly passed by Los Angeles City voters last November. Measure H will provide services that are crucial to helping people stay in their homes. It also invests in immediate relief like street outreach and crisis housing, and bridge housing which is so important to getting people on the track to securing a home—especially our veterans and formerly incarcerated people.
Measure H will end homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals across the county and prevent homelessness for 30,000 within five years. Think about what those numbers represent—new beginnings for tens of thousands of women, men, and children; our fellow Angelenos. I am not sure if we have ever had the chance for one vote to mean this much.
Right now we primarily address homelessness through our police, fire departments, hospitals and jails—these are all expensive and ineffective band-aids. By investing in the solutions that prevent and end homelessness we will save money in the long run.
I hope you will join me in taking real action, so that people sleeping on the streets tonight have some hope for moving up and out of homelessness. Vote yes on Measure H on March 7.
Jacqueline Waggoner is the Vice President and Southern California Market Leader at Enterprise Community Partners.