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County spending plan notes slower-than-average growth


Addressing homelessness remains priority

Noting slower-than-average growth in revenues and the winding down of some federal and state funding, Los Angeles County's CEO released a $45.4 billion budget proposal for 2024-25 this week, a decrease of $1.4 million from the 2023-24 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

While the proposed budget is lower than the current fiscal year, Fesia Davenport, county CEO, assured that the spending plan will maintain the county's priorities, such as efforts to address housing and homelessness, promote mental health services, bolsters public safety, and ensure other county services. The proposal would also add 835 new positions–more than half of

them in the Department of Mental Health–for a total of 116,159 budgeted positions in the county workforce.

“This recommended budget represents a balanced plan for the county's future in the face of multiple uncertainties,'' Davenport said during an online briefing Monday morning. “It invests our limited discretionary resources in the board's highest priority programs, emphasizes services that our communities need, and embraces innovations like the Breathe guaranteed income program–all while maintaining the strength of the county's social safety net.''

The budget proposal includes $728.2 million in anti-homelessness funding, including money to hire more outreach workers, housing navigators, mental health clinicians, mental health clinicians and substance use counselors. It includes 452 more positions in the Department of Mental Health, with those workers helping support the state's new CARE Court Program, along

with the Interim Housing Outreach Program to serve mentally ill homeless people so they can maintain housing, as well as expanding county-run clinics and staffing other mental health services.

Davenport noted the proposal is expected to increase housing navigation slots by 23%, increase interim housing beds by 17% or 6,266 beds, help 5,000 more households finding permanent housing, and 8,332 more permanent housing subsidies.

About $300.6 million, equal to 10% of ongoing locally generated unrestricted revenues, is being directed to the Care First, Jails Last effort as outlined in Measure J, which mandates funding for community investments and alternatives to incarceration. An additional $223.4 million in one-time funds from previous budget cycles would be made available for Care First Community

Investment programs under the proposal.

Davenport said $95.6 million would assist foster families, prospective adoptive parents and relatives who foster family members. Another $81.1 million would be made accessible to replace EBT benefits for victims of card theft by skimmers and scammers acting statewide.

About $17.4 million is intended to support CalFresh food benefactors and $13 million for jobs programs for youth and people with high barriers to employment. The county is also looking to grow its stock of electric vehicle chargers, infrastructure improvements and water conservation projects.

“While this budget allows for growth in some critical areas, the economic outlook is challenging,'' Davenport said. “Growth and property taxes have slowed as interest rates have climbed and high vacancies in the commercial real estate market could further decrease funding. Property taxes are roughly 20% of this overall budget, and are the primary source of funds over which the board has direct discretion.''