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Los Angeles voters have approved more money to fight homelessness. Now they want to see results

A generous but demanding electorate has placed Karen Bass in the mayor’s office with the tools she thinks she needs to reduce homelessness. Now they want results.

In a survey released Tuesday, nearly 89% of City of Los Angeles voters said they expect the new mayor to cut homelessness by at least half during his four-year term.

By approving Measure ULA, a real estate transaction tax of more than $5 million, voters handed Bass about $600 million or more a year to do so.

A majority said they thought the money should lead to a drop in homelessness within two to four years, and almost 20% thought it would happen in just one year. But more than 60% said they would support a recall if the new mayor “fails to effectively address homelessness in his first two years in office.”

“What we hear from Angelenos is that we support the next direction to do whatever it takes to fix this problem,” said Miguel Santana, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation, which funded the project. ‘investigation. “We are generous and providing you with the resources you need…and we will continue to hold you accountable. We are going to be very focused on what you deliver.

The survey was commissioned by the Committee for Greater LA, a coalition of civic leaders, to assess the tenure of the new mayor and member of the board of supervisors, said Santana, chair of the group.

Santana said she saw in the responses evidence that people are increasingly willing to make sacrifices to solve a problem that affects everyone.

“It’s now a universal experience in LA,” Santana said. “These are no longer certain areas of the city. It’s as common as sunshine, palm trees and traffic. Being an Angeleno means you witness human suffering in your daily life.

Three-quarters of those polled said they would be willing to give the mayor “full power to provide housing for the homeless”. On several development questions, two-thirds said they would be willing to waive some environmental restrictions and limit community input on housing and shelter, and more than 70% would support a shelter or apartment. for the homeless within a mile of their home.

“We will accept things that we wouldn’t accept before, shelters or apartments, because we don’t know what will happen next,” said Pete White, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Community Action Network. who campaigns against homelessness and advised on the investigation.

In the survey, 56% said they had difficulty paying their rent in the past year. A survey of the general population would likely show that figure to be much higher, said Fernando Guerra, founding director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, which led the study. survey of 1,309 voters.

Guerra said the center will include non-voters in the survey early next year.

The voter survey polled people, after voting in the Nov. 8 election, on their understanding of the tax measure, which was generally high, and their perception of who is responsible for advancing homelessness.

Respondents held the mayor most responsible (35.8%), followed by the governor (29%). Only 13.4% put the responsibility on the municipal council.

Despite the urgency expressed for the new mayor, voters were mildly positive about incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti’s handling of homelessness, even though the number of people living on the streets has increased significantly during his two terms. . More than 53% agreed that the Garcetti administration had “effectively solved the problem”.

Consistent with many previous polls, just under 80% said homelessness is “a problem in the neighborhood where I live”.

Voters were generally optimistic that Measure ULA will produce results, with 19.4% saying they expect to see a difference within a year and 35.3% within two to four years. Only 29% said they did not expect to see results.

They would also be more lenient with the measure than the mayor if improvements are not evident: 50.4% said they would support a repeal if it “fails to effectively address homelessness in its two first years”.

In a recurring theme in the survey, voters were mixed in their opinions about the county’s role in addressing homelessness.

Over 95% of all demographics thought it was important for the city and county to work together, but only 10.6% held the board of supervisors most accountable. When asked who is most responsible, 62% answered the mayor, 38% the supervisors.

Similarly, while more than 80% said the Los Angeles County Sheriff “has an important role to play in solving the homelessness crisis”, less than 4% thought he was “the most responsible”.

Less than half of respondents (47.9%) understood that the ULA, a tax on city residents for city expenses, does not devote any funds to mental illness, which is primarily the responsibility of the county .

Other than that, voters had detailed knowledge of the tax measure, with about 60% saying they understood its basic principles. More than 56% said they were aware that a paid 15-member oversight committee would be created and that “the chief executive of the Los Angeles Department of Housing, not the mayor, would be the chief administrator of these funds. “.

Indicating a strong, if not entirely consistent, desire for change, more than 81% said they would support a reduction in bureaucratic processes while 67% said they “would support some elected officials having less control over expenses”.

California Daily Newspapers

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