Many of you have reached out to me to ask how you can be part of the change that creates more equity in our communities. As we approach the coming election there are a number of propositions that are worth your support. In the coming weeks, we will share more about propositions 16, 17, and 18 which we have endorsed.
For now, we’d like to tell you more about a groundbreaking measure called Measure J that is on the November ballot. Measure J would dedicate 10% of the County’s unrestricted budget to priorities that will create a more just and fair Los Angeles – housing, youth education, investment in small businesses and job retraining, especially black-owned businesses, and alternatives to incarceration. This is what our community needs, especially as they bear the brunt of this pandemic, and the county has identified that just 2.6% of the general fund is going towards these uses now.
While United Way has dedicated much of our time and resources to ensuring people come off the streets and into housing– and we are proud that we are housing more people than ever before, we have not been able to stem the inflow of people into homelessness. We can also agree that our current system is not working and we are deploying the wrong interventions at the wrong time. One-third of the people in county jail right now have a serious mental illness and need long-term treatment. 600,000 people—disproportionately Black people and Latinos–and are spending 90% of their income on housing costs and are on the brink of homelessness. People living on the streets have a life expectancy of 57 years, 20 years less than people with a home in L.A. County!
Measure J invests upstream to prevent people from becoming homeless, and it acknowledges the disproportionate share of Black and Brown people who are deeply struggling. Measure J provides more visibility and accountability on existing dollars to deliver better outcomes—forcing the County to be clear and transparent in the programs it is funding.
We believe Measure J can serve as a model for communities across the nation. Please join us in driving the measure to victory.