95% of L.A. Voters Cite Homelessness as Major Issue

It’s difficult to build consensus on just about anything these days, but one exception is the gravity of homelessness. A full 95% of L.A. County voters agree it’s a serious or very serious problem, according to a new poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times.

The near-unanimous opinion that homelessness ranks as a top concern marks a sharp change from earlier surveys of Los Angeles voters over the past dozen years, said Fred Yang of Hart Research, the Washington, D.C., polling firm that conducted the survey.

Only traffic congestion and housing affordability — at 88% and 85%, respectively — came close to rivaling the near universal concern over homelessness.

“It’s all over L.A.,” said Justine Marine, a student who participated in a focus group tied to the countywide poll. “You can be in a good neighborhood, and it could be right around the corner. You can’t escape it.”

Hart surveyed 901 registered voters. While they agreed homelessness was a top issue of concern, they differed on causes and solutions. Again, almost all respondents believe mental illness and substance abuse play a significant role. 49% believe homelessness is “primarily” due to a lack of affordable housing and low wages. 26% blamed “individual actions and decisions.”

Homelessness increased in L.A. County by 12% this year. The homeless death rate is also up significantly.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times