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County homeless tax measure officially wins

LOS ANGELES — Measure H, the quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax to fund anti-homelessness programs, maintained the two-thirds majority needed for approval in a final ballot tally released March 20.

The measure’s backers already declared victory March 17, when an update showed it had a safe margin above two-thirds. The final results have the measure finishing with 69.37 percent of the “yes” vote.

The quarter-cent sales tax is projected to generate about $355 million annually for 10 years.

In total, the measure received 585,905 votes, compared to 259,098 votes against.

“This is a historic victory, as Measure H will kick-start an unprecedented effort to fight and prevent homelessness, the defining civic issue of our time,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said March 17. “Thanks to the generosity and compassion of the people of Los Angeles County, we now have the means to end this crisis.”

“With nearly 70 percent of voters supporting Measure H, it’s clear that our community will no longer accept homelessness as the status quo,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of the nonprofit United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “We are proud to have been a part of such a broad coalition of civic and community leaders, all working towards a shared vision: a Los Angeles County without homelessness.”

Organized labor and the business community, often at opposite ends of the political spectrum, both supported the measure.

“The L.A. County Federation of Labor was proud to support Measure H and work hard for its success,” said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “It will give tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness a second chance at life and help us build a more equal and fair Los Angeles County.”

“The business community showed Its overwhelming support for Measure H with votes and financial support for the campaign,” said Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “They know that Measure H is the right solution for ending homelessness and the right solution for saving money in the long run.”

Reba Stevens, a formerly homeless person, expressed gratitude for the passage of Measure H.

“I know firsthand that this is going to change the lives of every single person who has experienced homelessness, and those who are currently homeless,” she said. “Measure H is going to change and save lives. I’m truly excited and thrilled. I don’t even know what to say, other than thank you, thank you so much.”

With all precincts reporting after the election, preliminary results released early March 8 showed Measure H with 67.44 percent of the vote, just ahead of the two-thirds majority it needed for approval. But with nearly 295,000 vote-by-mail, provisional and questioned ballots still left to be counted, it was unclear at the time if the measure would maintain the required percentage.