LA May Tax Marijuana To Pay For Homeless Housing

| by Robert Fowler
Homeless in Los AngelesHomeless in Los Angeles

Government officials in Los Angeles, California, are mulling over several different proposals to raise the revenue necessary to fund an ambitious project to curb the city’s epidemic of homelessness. One idea is to slap a tax on the growing and selling of medical marijuana.

Recently, the homeless population in L.A. has swelled. Over the last two years, the city’s homelessness rate has expanded by a whopping 20 percent, reaching 26,000 individuals, Los Angeles Times reports.

The epidemic is felt across the entire city as shantytowns have cropped up even in affluent areas. On March 30, the L.A. City Council voted to limit the amount of possessions a homeless person could own to what can fit in a 60-gallon container.

That measure may improve the optics of the city, but more dramatic measures are being taken to actually address the root of the problem.

In February 2016, L.A. officials committed to investing nearly $2 billion over 10 years to provide the city’s homeless with affordable housing and services. Now, budget analysts are scrambling to find ways of funding the costly undertaking, SCPR reports.

“Even as our economy improves, we do not anticipate to have an additional $1.78 billion over the next 10 years to dedicate for this purpose,” Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said during a council members' meeting.

To make up for the huge deficit, officials have consolidated their ideas to 9 different proposals to generate new revenue.

Among these proposals is a 15 percent tax added to growing and selling medical marijuana. The steep tax increase would add only about $16.7 million a year, but if California legalizes recreational marijuana sales, then that revenue could multiply.

California voters will have that opportunity in November, when they vote on The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which would allow Californians aged 21 years or older to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana at a time, LA Weekly reports.

Market analysts project that legalizing recreational marijuana could add billions to the market.

Revenue could also come from a $1 billion bond issue that would require a majority of city voters’ approval. The loan would be paid over the course of 30 years using a property tax hike.

Other plans include imposing fees on real estate documents, projected to raise $30 million; doubling real estate sales taxes, projected to raise $167 million a year; increasing the city sales tax 0.25 percent, which would raise $122 million; and instituting a 12 percent billboard tax that could raise $24 million.

Sources: LA WeeklyLos Angeles Times, SCPR / Photo credit: Chris Sansenbach/Wikimedia Commons

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