City Measure Proposes New Real Estate Tax To Combat Homeless Crisis – CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Housing advocates are looking to tap into Los Angeles luxury real estate market to help solve the homelessness crisis.

“It’s going to immediately support people experiencing homelessness, as well as those at risk of homelessness, with rental assistance, with income assistance for low-income seniors, (and) access to permanent,” said Eli Lipman, executive director of Move LA, one of the groups leading the effort to pass the measure in the 2022 election.

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The measure proposes a 4% tax on real estate transactions —residential and commercial —  of more than $5 million and a 5.5% tax on transactions greater than $10 million. Lipman added that the measure would also establish strong civilian oversight and accountability protections. Advocates like Larry Gross believe it would help stem the homelessness crisis by providing funds for more affordable housing.

skid row

Entire blocks are packed with homeless encampments on Skid row in downtown Los Angeles on April 21, 2021. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

“If passed it would create more affordable homes,” said the executive director of Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenants’ rights group. “It would prevent more people from being thrown out on the streets and become homeless.”

However, opponents believe the proposed measure would just result in more wasted funds. This summer Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $12 billion package to fight the homeless crisis. Locally, L.A. County passed a .25% sales tax increase in 2017 to drum up funds for homelessness.

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“When it comes to California’s approach to the homeless issue, never has so much money been spent so ineffectively,” said president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Jon Coupal. “This is as a selling point that has been tried before and rejected because homeowners know that if there is a crack in Prop 13 that could be exploited that ordinary homeowners will be next.”

Tipman disagrees claiming this proposed measure would only affect a handful of wealthy individuals.

“This is asking millionaires and billionaires in the city of Los Angeles to contribute their fair share,” he said.

An expert in politics and political communication, USC assistant professor Dr. Jennifer Cryer believes leaders will need to effectively communicate the tenets of the measure to voters.

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“We had direct democracy instantiate Proposition 13 in 1978 which kept property taxes at a baseline level and limited the rate at which they could increase and now we’re seeing direct democracy roll back that decision,” she said. “There also just needs to be an explanation to voters generally. One thing propositions do really really well is that they generate participation, but they don’t necessarily increase knowledge.”