The Re-Imagine L.A. Coalition—a coalition of more than 200 community-based organizations and individuals representing Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and low-income communities from across Los Angeles County—urges L.A. County Chief Executive Office Fesia Davenport to commit to fully funding services and care that meet the needs of our community. While the 2021-22 Supplemental Budget is oriented toward a model that prioritizes care, it falls short of fully realizing the commitments and vision the Board of Supervisors set forth in their Care First plan for L.A. County.
The $187.7 million dollar Care First Community Investment spending plan lays the foundation for robust investment into community-led organizations and alternatives to incarceration. However, nearly half of the allocation—approximately $87 million—is sourced from pandemic-related relief money which is expected to run out by May 2022. Ensuring the sustainability of critical programs and services that keep LA County residents housed, employed, and healthy requires profound long-term investments.
“A true Care First vision will only be realized through transparent and accessible processes”
“A true Care First vision will only be realized through transparent and accessible processes that promote community power sharing, accountability, and equity” said Megan Castillo, Coordinator with the Re-Imagine L.A Coalition. “The County must intentionally invest in authentic community collaboration through engagement and integration while committing to participatory budgeting processes to fund a Care First Budget.
The $24.7 million dollar investment in Youth Justice Reimagined, while a step in the right direction, falls short of the promise the Board of Supervisors made to secure $75 million dollars for services that nurture and empower LA County’s youth. Youth, and particularly Black, brown, low-income, and LGBTQ+ youth, remain underserved and under-resourced in this County budget.
Nicole Brown, Policy Coordinator with Urban Peace Institute shared, “L.A. County is spending more than one million dollars to incarcerate just one young person per year. Instead of investing in criminalization, this funding could provide critical care, education, and support that equips our youth with the life skills that prevent involvement in the carceral system.”
The 2021-22 Supplemental Budget directs funding to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) to support law-enforcement-led mental health evaluation teams, which furthers the criminalization of vulnerable groups. Mental health services should be led by experienced mental health professionals who understand how to effectively work with vulnerable populations, not cops.
“This moment presented an opportunity to resource community-led initiatives that reduce the impacts of incarceration, uplift care and community, and fulfill the goals of a Care First, Jails Last vision” said Brian Kaneda, Deputy Director of Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB). “Community-based services have received only a small fraction of AB 109 funding in prior years. Now, we face more obstacles as a result of the County’s continued, unhealthy investment in incarceration, led by law enforcement special interest groups.”
“For almost a decade since the emergence of AB 109 realignment in 2011, Los Angeles County has had unique budgetary opportunities that has brought new justice resources into the County, but has never leveraged a participatory budgeting process,” says Diana Zúñiga, a member of the Re-imagine LA Coalition.
Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget, giving people real power over real money.