Plan To Fight Homelessness With Marijuana Tax Unlikely To Succeed

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to put a special marijuana business tax on the November ballot - a 10 percent tax that would help get people out of homelessness. The new tax would fund crucial mental health and addictions treatment, rental subsidies, and emergency housing. 

Now, the measure appears likely to be pulled. On July 22, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl introduced a new motion to rescind the 3-2 vote and stop the measure from going on the ballot. Kuehl cites “a good deal of ambivalence” about the proposal among service providers, which she feared would make it difficult to get the required two-thirds majority among voters.

“We certainly didn’t want to raise millions of dollars for a campaign and have it fail by two or three points,” Kuehl told the L.A. Times

Previously, L.A. County had considered a "millionaire's tax" - a half-percent tax on personal income over $1-million - which would have raised a projected $243-million per year for anti-homelessness initiatives. A sales tax and a property tax were also considered, but neither were able to attract the necessary level of support.

Los Angeles has had a serious housing problem for years: as many as 254,000 people experience homelessness in the county every year. 4,800 to 10,000 of those homeless are minors, and the problem is especially prevalent in the Hollywood area. The homelessness crisis in the city is so severe that last year, mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the Los Angeles City Council declared the inadequacy of shelter space a state of emergency.

According to estimates from county authorities, Los Angeles needs $450-million in annual funding to effectively fight homelessness in the region, of which the proposed tax on recreational marijuana could raise between $78 and $130 million.

Banner image: praszkiewicz / Shutterstock.com 

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