The Committee for Greater LA (the Committee)—a nonpartisan group of civic leaders with the shared vision of using the pandemic recovery as an opportunity to advance a more equitable Los Angeles—has released the findings of focus group research exploring attitudes and concerns Angelenos have on the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles. Across the board, Angelenos are in danger of losing faith in the local government’s ability to deliver on the promise to end homelessness citing a lack of accountability, transparency, and coordination.
The Committee commissioned the research to build on the insight garnered in their initial report “We’re Not Giving Up: A Plan for Homelessness Governance in Los Angeles.” The research, conducted by David Binder Research, consisted of focus groups with voters in Los Angeles County, including White Democratic men, Latinos, Chinese Americans, African-Americans, white Democratic, Independent and Republican women, and millennial voters, to gauge voters’ knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about the issue of homelessness, including existing policies, and accountability.
“This research shows that Angelenos understand the complicated factors that contribute to the crisis and recognize that there are no easy answers. Any credible solution needs to have clear data, goals, and transparency. Most of all, a plan forward requires clarity of roles and thoughtful coordination between governments, service providers, and the inclusion of those with lived experience,” said Miguel A. Santana, chair of the Committee for Greater LA and President and CEO of the Weingart Foundation.
The focus group findings show that:
• Voters are frustrated that investments made through the ballot box have not significantly reduced homelessness.
• Voters trust providers and not-for-profit organizations that are on the ground responding to the crisis.
• Angelenos are proximate in their daily lives to those experiencing homelessness and feel compassion for unhoused veterans and people suffering from mental illness and addiction.
• Angelenos respect the perspective of those who have experienced homelessness and believe that their struggle provides critical insight on the solutions needed to end the crisis.
“Voters are astute in recognizing that permanent housing and supportive services are vital as we advance a solution to end homelessness,” said Peter Laugharn, co-chair of the Housing and Homelessness Action Team of the Committee for Greater LA and president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “The solution is grounded in evidence, research, practice, and results, but oftentimes governance is an obstacle to realizing this solution across jurisdictions in Los Angeles.”
To fill this void of leadership, voters want an independent entity that tells the truth, offers clear data, and leads in building consensus around a comprehensive and realistic plan. They want a transparent body with measurable, realistic goals and that are ambitious enough to generate the momentum needed to move people into treatment and housing.
“Without exception, the issue of homelessness is top of mind for voters and there’s a perception that the situation is worsening,” Darry A. Sragow, strategic consultant on the research, said. “Voters don’t see accountability on how tax dollars are being spent, no regional plan to evaluate progress and no consensus on the best practices to deal with the crisis. Most of all, they do not see anyone in charge.”
The Committee hosted two webinars to release the findings. First, on February 9th, the research was shared with mayoral and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor candidates urging them to recognize the valid frustration Angelenos have on the issue of homelessness and to be open to the solutions proposed, rather than considering a unilateral approach. A second webinar for the public was hosted on Thursday, Feb. 10. The recording of the webinar and a copy of the focus group research findings can be accessed at nogoingback.la.