Ahead of today’s election, 61% of Los Angeles voters cited the issue of homelessness as the city’s top priority. It was followed by crime, security enhancement, and housing problems, accounting for 38% and 36%, respectively.
According to a recent voter survey conducted by the Southern California News Group (SCNG), more than three-quarters of voters in Los Angeles said homelessness had worsened in the past few years. Additionally, a study of Los Angeles voters found that more than a third said they were concerned about the recent surge in the homeless population and that solving homeless problems should be a top priority for the city in the Los Angeles mayoral election.
In the survey, SCNG asked, “Do you think the problem of homelessness in your community today has improved, worsened, or remained the same compared to years ago?” In response, 76.8% of the total respondents answered that the homeless problem had worsened. Of these, 87% Republicans, 74.4% Democrats, and 74.6% independents.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Administration (LAHSA) homeless count as of February 2022, released in September, the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County stood at 69,144, an increase of 4.1% from two years ago. The slower-than-average increase in homelessness has been the result of city, county, and state funding efforts in recent years to provide homeless shelters and permanent homes.
However, in Los Angeles County, only 30% of the homeless population is currently sheltered. The remaining 70% are still without shelter, forced to stay on the streets, under freeway bridges, in parks and rivers, and require proper care. About 30% of the county’s homeless population is black and 44% is Latino.
It also found that around 40% of homeless people are suffering from substance abuse or serious mental illness. This shows that homelessness is disproportionately affecting low-income people of color, such as blacks and Latinos.
A report published by MedicalNet highlighted that a growing number of voters are dissatisfied with their communities because of the ubiquity of homeless tents. It is causing various problems such as deterioration of the living environment of the homeless, the urgency of beautifying the streets, discord with nearby business owners and residents, an increase in crimes against or perpetrating the homeless, and creating anxiety among residents.
Meanwhile, two candidates, Rick Caruso and Karen Beth, who are in a fierce battle in the LA mayoral election, are promising various solutions, citing the problem of homelessness as an immediate task for the city government to solve.