California Leaders to Address Housing Issues Today at Mayoral Summit

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Dozens of California government officials will speak at the 2019 Mayoral Housing Summit today, days after a new survey showed voters in Los Angeles County don't think the taxes they pay for housing for the homeless are going to good use.

The summit is hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council, which co-commissioned the survey with the Los Angeles Times.

The Housing Summit will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center at 425 Westwood Plaza.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other officials are expected to speak at 1 p.m. The summit will be live-streamed at www.labusinesscouncil.org.

The survey was discussed on Wednesday by its authors, Hart Research's Peter Hart and Fred Yang, and 22% voters who were surveyed said they don't think the money put toward the city's Proposition HHH and the county's Measure H initiatives, which combined to fund more than $1.5 billion for permanent supportive housing, is being spent effectively. But 58% said they would be willing to renew the funding or have it expanded.

“The importance of presenting this is really to get underneath how these voters look at this problem,” Hart said. “It's important to understand as they look toward the results and where we should go, these people definitely have a humanitarian point of view.”

The poll surveyed 901 county voters and asked them questions on various topics related to homelessness. In total, 95% of them view homelessness as a problem, and a majority of them said they feel sorry for the unhoused.

People surveyed said they are not confident in their civic leaders' abilities to address the problem, with 36% saying they were optimistic, 22% said they're not sure and 41% said they were pessimistic.

Yang said his company has provided surveys for Los Angeles in the past, but a 2016 survey found that the percentage of voters who thought the county was on the right track in addressing homelessness was higher than those who thought it was going the wrong way.

“This is important because this is, in some respects, a little bit of an outlier for the region,” Yang said.

Most people said they support more costly, long-term solutions to housing people, and 23% said they support short-term policies like funding shelters, but people were split on whether they'd be willing to wait years for long-term solutions to take effect.

Three-fourths of those surveyed said they were in favor of a right-to- shelter law, which requires the government to provide temporary shelter to anyone who wishes to come indoors.

Most said they are receptive to stronger and new policies, saying they need to break with long-standing practices, even if that requires “major changes to some neighborhoods.”

The poll did not examine the various degrees of homelessness, such as people who are trying to get back on their feet and those who have severe mental disabilities, Hart said.

More people said a lack of housing and wage disparities cause homelessness rather than a person's actions, but 23% said they think it's both.

The results of both the poll and the focus group point to rising public anger and a sense of helplessness over encampments, as the homeless population has skyrocketed to nearly 60,000 countywide and government has struggled to keep up with the growing number of tents and makeshift shelters that have spread into almost every corner of Los Angeles.

A report on Thursday from the McKinsey Global Institute reported that the city's lack of affordable housing is decreasing the county's overall gross domestic product by $32 billion to $36 billion each year. The report stated that although the city leads California in housing production, 9% of housing built in the last five years has been on the market for people earning below the average median income.

Photo: Getty Images

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