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The Signal and College of the Canyons are scheduled to host a debate later this month on Measure H, the lone item on voters’ March 7 ballot aimed at funding a countywide homelessness initiative for 10 years.

SCV voters receiving their sample ballots in the mail will find no other item on them, although some other municipalities in the county have water board, school board and other municipal agency issues on their same ballot.

Last year the county adopted a complex set of strategies aimed at providing services to help prevent homelessness, lift people out of homelessness and provide services – mental health care, drug treatment and the like – to prevent them from falling back into homelessness.

Called the county Homeless Initiative, the plan was developed during more than a year of collaboration between cities, public agencies, county agencies and assistance organizations. It was initiated with initial county funding. Now the county wants the voters to shoulder the burden with a ¼-cent sales tax.

The county’s plan is designed to work in conjunction with Measure HHH, passed by Los Angeles city voters in November to provide housing for the homeless receiving services funded by Measure H.
Signal columnist Jim de Bree, a retired CPA, estimated the hike in sales tax would cost the average Santa Clarita Valley household $75 to $80 a year assuming an income of about $85,000, a third of it spent on taxable purchases.

The March 7 ballot offers no opposing argument to the “pro” Measure H argument, but that doesn’t mean there’s no opposition.

Mayor Cameron Smyth, noting he was speaking only for himself as an individual, said this week he does not support Measure H.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, however, is a staunch supporter of the measure.

A debate on the issue is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at the College of the Canyons University Center on the Valencia campus.

Speaking in favor of Measure H will be Katie Hill, deputy CEO of PATH, the largest organization solely focused on addressing homelessness in California. Currently involved in implementing a new strategic plan for PATH to increase its effectiveness and efficiency, Hill has been with the organization since 2010 and is a Santa Clarita Valley resident and graduate of Saugus High School.

Speaking against the measure will be G. Rick Marshall, chief financial officer for California Taxpayers Action Network. He is a longtime taxpayer advocate and has been active for decades in local, county and state public policy. Currently he serves on the Torrance Planning Commission.

The Signal invites readers to submit questions they would like asked during the debate here. The debate is free and open to the public.

Visit signalscv.com/MeasureH for more information.

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