Annenberg Radio News

Recent study revealed public distrust in politicians addressing homelessness issues

Voters demand that funds be used toward a realistic plan with clear measures and accountability.

People in L.A. are fed up with the increasing number of unhoused all throughout the county, and they do not trust politicians to do anything to solve the problem. That’s according to a recent study released today. Xinchi Wang reports.


Quotes from Angelenos included in the report ranged from “I’m not optimistic to the point where I’d prefer not to be here, and if it weren’t for my grandkids, I’d be out of here!” to “The degradation of life in L.A. is exponential, and I don’t see an end. The politicians are doofuses!” to “I run into one or two every day, and I wonder: This is someone’s son. Did he refuse help? How can you help them? We’re failing them.”

These are some of the replies that David Binder Research got last December when they conducted six focus groups of diverse citizens across LA County. Political Strategist Darry Sragow led the research. He says that no matter the ethnicity, gender, or age of the people they talked to.

DARRY SRAGOW: In Los Angeles, there is an absolute total complete without exception, lack of faith in city and county government to address homelessness. I mean, in all the years I’ve watched focus groups conducted focus groups and it’s, you know, in the hundreds been doing this for decades. Never have I seen this kind of consistency and focus group results.

The study also says that voters perceive a complete lack of accountability in the way public funds are spent. They do not have an appetite for further tax increases labeled as “for the purpose of resolving the homelessness issue.” And they don’t think the situation will improve soon, says the strategist Darry Sragow.

DARRY SRAGOW: Voters do not have the expectation that we are suddenly somehow going to eradicate homelessness in Los Angeles again uniformly. They see this as a problem that is going to be around for a long time. And what they’re looking for is a realistic plan with clear measures and goals and a system of accountability to measure whether or not those goals are being met. They want them to be ambitious enough to generate momentum and to make progress. And that means moving people into housing, getting them off the streets and getting them into housing.

Focus groups such as these do not give findings with statistical accuracy. They give more of a snapshot of what voters are thinking. But the researchers hope that their findings will influence the current race for the next Mayor of Los Angeles. Finally, there was one other important finding in the study - voters in general remain compassionate toward and empathetic with people experiencing homelessness.