A new survey released by UCLA shows that a lot of Angelenos aren't just unhappy about their quality of life—many have grave concerns about their ability to feed and shelter themselves and their families. The survey allowed LA County residents from all walks of life to weigh in on their overall satisfaction with aspects of their lives and communities. On a somewhat confusing scale of 10 to 100, respondents rated their overall quality of life at an underwhelming 59--barely above the midpoint of 55.
One of the biggest areas of disagreement among those surveyed was economic equality. Respondents making under $30,000 scored the fairness of the LA economy at a very low 52, while those lucky enough to be making over $120,000 found the economy to be much more fair and scored it at 71 on average. Not surprisingly, lower income residents were also much more worried about financial security than higher earners.
The study's most alarming finding was that an enormous number of LA County residents are struggling to pay for essential living costs like food and housing. In a yes or no section of the survey, nearly a third of all respondents said they have worried about losing their homes and becoming homeless in recent years, and an almost equally large group said that they have worried about going hungry because they could not afford the cost of food. More than half of residents with incomes under $30,000 and about a quarter of residents with incomes as high as $120,000 had recently worried about becoming homeless.
Such jarring statistics suggest the area is becoming more divided than ever along economic lines, haves and have nots. Zev Yaroslavsky, former LA County Supervisor and director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, tells the LA Times that "economic differences seem to be the fault line in our county. [The study] really paints a picture of a Los Angeles that is two worlds."
The study also found differences between participants along racial lines: Latinos were the most concerned with the cost of housing, while whites were the least satisfied with the quality of public education in their communities. But Yaroslavsky says the biggest divides were economic. He tells the Times that he hopes the report will shed light on the struggles of lower income Angelenos and "put more urgency on the collective efforts the city and county are now pursuing on homelessness."
Taken as a whole, residents weren't very satisfied with the number of job opportunities, cost of living, and quality of education in LA County. Generally, though, people had positive feelings about their neighborhoods, access to healthcare, and the state of race relations in their communities. Law enforcement, transportation, and environmental issues all received neutral ratings.
One thing that nearly all respondents in the survey agreed on: the price of housing is too damn high. Overall, housing costs received a dismal score of 51, with even six-figure earners giving very low marks.
- Many L.A. County residents worry about going hungry or becoming homeless, survey finds [LA Times]
- Los Angeles Quality of Life Index finds deep divisions along class and racial lines [UCLA Newsroom]
- High Housing Costs Are Driving Californians Out in Droves [Curbed LA]
- Basic Costs of Living Add Up to Three-Quarters of the Average LA Income [Curbed LA]