05
Tue, Mar

Is LA Having a Robin-Hood-Helps-the-Homeless Moment?

LOS ANGELES

DEEGAN ON LA-Is LA having a “Robin Hood Helps the Homeless” moment in the face of an ever growing more-expensive-than-anticipated crisis involving people suffering from homelessness? Will we support the taxing of millionnaires to pay for homeless services? 

Taking from the rich and giving it to the poor is a well known concept popularized in the 15th century legend of Robin Hood. He was a folkloric hero that saw the 1% not caring for the needs of the 99% and did something about it by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Legend may repeat itself if the proposed “millionaires’ tax” makes it to the November ballot. 

The proposal is for a Local High Income Tax (aka “millionaires’ tax”) that will be equivalent to 1/2 % of personal income above $1 million per year. The projected revenue from this tax is $243 million, but will this make a dent in the problem? While much more is needed, this is a great start. The challenging part is getting it approved by the state legislature next week on June 16, and then getting the Governor to sign the bill that would allow the County Supervisors to put it on the November 8 ballot, where it must get a 2/3 majority vote to become effective. 

The legislative process is underway and urgently needs voter support through phone calls, letters, faxes and email to the legislative leadership in Sacramento. The deadline is June 16, but supporters are being asked to take immediate action -- today. 

What the County of Los Angeles is seeking is “the enactment of trailer bill language to grant counties the authority to seek voter approval to impose a special tax on personal annual income above $1 million to combat homelessness.” 

In August 2015, in response to the homelessness crisis which pervades Los Angeles

County, the County launched the Homeless Initiative, a countywide effort to develop a comprehensive set of county strategies to combat homelessness. 

On February 9, 2016, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a comprehensive set of 47 strategies which resulted from an inclusive planning process in which community organizations, cities and county departments all played key roles. 

The Board approved $100 million in one-time funding to launch the implementation of these strategies, but more is needed, on a continuing annual bass, to sustain the plan. 

This is where the millionaires’ tax come in -- to help fill the “housing gap” of 25,550 units that has been identified by LAHSA. This includes permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, and emergency shelters. The County needs $450 million per year (not counting construction costs) to fill the gap. The $243 million annual Robin Hood tax revenues would fund about half of that need. It is a significant step in the right direction. 

The urgent call to action -- made even more urgent because the legislature will consider the trailer bill request next Wednesday, June 16 -- is for anyone that supports this legislation to enact a millionaires’ tax benefitting the homeless, should say so immediately. 

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas stressed, “The people of Los Angeles County have made it known that the time to act on homelessness is now. Public support for a millionaires’ tax is overwhelmingly positive. We need to continue with this forward momentum, and so we are urging everyone to contact the Assembly Speaker, the Senate pro Tem and the Governor to allow the County the option to seek this vital source of ongoing revenue in the battle to end homelessness.”

Here’s what to say and who to say it to: 

“The (your name or the name of your organization) urges your support for trailer bill language (TBL) that would provide counties with the authority to seek voter approval to impose a special tax on personal annual incomes over $1 million dollars for purposes of providing housing and services for homeless individuals/families.” 

Who to contact: 

You can email and/or fax, or call in your advocacy letter no later than Monday, June 13th to the following elected officials that are decision makers for this legislation, and send copies of your email, for or letter to: [email protected] 

Governor Jerry Brown

Email - https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php or https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php

Telephone: (916) 445-4341

Fax: (916) 558-3160

 

Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León

Email: [email protected]

Fax: (916) 651-4924

 

Senator Mark Leno, Chair, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee

Email: [email protected]

Fax: (916) 651-4911

 

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon

Email: [email protected]

Fax: (916) 319-2163

 

Assembly Member Philip Ting, Chair, Assembly Budget Committee

Email: [email protected]

Fax: (916) 319-2119

 

When you go to sleep tonight, think about how and where the homeless are sleeping tonight. Before you go to bed, go to your computer and send a message to the Governor and legislative leaders stressing your support for the Trailer Bill Language (TBL) - the Robin Hood Tax.

 

(Tim Deegan is a long-time resident and community leader in the Miracle Mile, who has served as board chair at the Mid City West Community Council and on the board of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition. Tim can be reached at [email protected].) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.