Fewer than 7% of respondents believe local government is correctly handling the homelessness crisis

From Oct. 10 to Oct. 16, The Argonaut polled our social media and newsletter subscribers about their level of satisfaction with how local government is handling the homelessness crisis, and which of three response strategies — housing, services, or regulation of encampments — public officials should focus on most. A total of 446 people chose to take the survey.

A staggering 93.5% of respondents answered “no” to the question: “Do you believe local elected leaders are responding correctly to the homelessness crisis?”

Nearly two thirds of respondents — 65.25% — selected “Remove, Restrict and/or Clean Up Encampments” when asked what local government should prioritize most; 19.5% selected “Create More Housing,” and 15.25% selected “Provide More Services.”

Unlike a scientific poll that employs statistical weights and truly random samples, this was an open-ended survey representing only respondents who chose to take the poll; each respondent provided an email address and identified their community of residence, however.

Two neighborhoods account for about 40% of respondents: Marina del Rey (22.9%), which is governed directly by Los Angeles County, and Venice (17.3%),
which is part of the city of Los Angeles.

At least 60% of survey takers are Los Angeles residents, including 15.5% from Mar Vista or Del Rey, 12.6% from Playa del Rey, 8.5% from Westchester, 4.0% from West L.A. or Palms, and 2.2% from Playa Vista.

Santa Monica residents account for 5.6% of respondents and Culver City for 3.1%, while 7.0% of respondents live in other parts of L.A. County. Only three survey takers, or 0.7%, reported living outside L.A. County.

Many respondents provided comments to clarify their answers, excerpts of which include:

“It is neither compassionate nor helpful to allow [the homeless] to live in their own mess.”

Judi Brown, Marina del Rey

“What little housing is actually being built costs around $500,000 per unit. … Meanwhile, residents are told that little to nothing can be done to clean up encampments, or address the crime and sanitation issues they create, until ‘enough housing’ has been built.”

Anthony Wells, Venice

“We need to get people off drugs or, more appropriately, on the correct drugs. Monitor compliance of those being treated. Homeless encampments are the symptom, not the problem.”

M. R. Moynihan, Westchester

“Authorities appear unwilling to do anything about encampments, so people decide not to go to shelters where they’ll have to follow rules.”

S. Edwardo Diaz, Mar Vista

“My children attend a church and school in Venice where we have had many run-ins with addicts, filth, human defecation … [and] hypodermic needles where children walk.”

Amber Felix, Westchester

“Santa Monica is attracting the homeless from everywhere. [Other cities also] need to build low-income housing and shelters.”

Mathew Millen, Santa Monica

“All three [housing, services, enforcement] are important, but our home and family life are being adversely impacted by garbage and crime.”

Laurie Deer, Venice

“City Council should spend 100% of its time addressing the homeless crisis. Forget about plastic straws, road diets, etc., until they have made substantial progress.”

Rae Lamothe, Playa del Rey

“Removing, restricting and cleaning up encampments when people have nowhere else to go is immoral and absolutely reprehensible.”

Ruth Evans Lane, West L.A.

“The more free services the city provides, the more ‘travelers’ arrive.”

CJ Cole, Venice

“The homeless should be moved to where they can at least get basic needs provided for, such as clean drinking water, toilet and bathing facilities, and some security.”

Carol Waldman, Marina del Rey

“Declare a state of emergency. Utilize City Controller Ron Galperin’s audit of Prop HHH funding to create one regional agency that combines city and county resources to develop affordable housing.”

Mark Silverman, Marina del Rey

“Prop HHH bond money is being wasted on housing that is neither cost-effective nor sustainable, and is only designed to enrich our local Homeless Industrial Complex.”

Helen Fallon, Venice

“This is an overly complicated, nuanced issue that can’t be boiled down to whether or not a ‘local politician’ is responding correctly. Many solutions are impossible due to recent changes in state law and litigation that literally ties the hands of LAPD and the city to implement certain changes. Additionally NIMBYs are pushing back against getting certain housing in place. It’s an entirely shades of grey issue, and your question seems to be fairly black-and-white.”

Bill Koontz, Mar Vista

“This is a mental health crisis as much as it is a housing crisis.”

Mikey Duro, Playa del Rey

“Street encampments bring with them public sanitation concerns that are not being addressed. Public encampments with sanitation facilities and homeless services need to be created, managed and policed to ensure safe and humane treatment for the homeless as well a public safety for all citizens.”

Jim Carroll, Mar Vista

“I voted for Prop HHH and pay taxes to give elected officials tools for solving homelessness. Simply put, they have failed.”

Lee Zeidman, Venice

“All of the above [housing, services, enforcement], but primarily enforce the law and keep our streets and parks clean and well-maintained. Venice is the tourism capital of Southern California!”

Terry Ballentine, Venice

“Encampments are being used for drug dealing and bicycle chop shops. Very few of the campers appear interested in shelters.”

Michelle Zweig, Marina del Rey

“There are many vacant lots in my zip code that should be taken over using eminent domain and city funds allocated to purchasing cheap prefab housing on Amazon to create homes for the far-too-many people currently living on the sidewalks in front of them.”

Susan D. Einbinder, PhD, MS; Santa Monica

“Get the homeless into mental health facilities.”

Greg Gunnell, Westchester

“There needs to be consequences for refusing to get a job, living on the sidewalk, doing drugs, committing crimes and refusing to participate in society.”

Leah Smolker, Marina del Rey

“We need a more robust response, but a lot of the problem is NIMBYism and city/county processes which are too cumbersome. Shame on the NIMBYs who refuse realistic measures such as developing housing and services in Venice in the old bus yard. Take the controller’s audit seriously and fix the process for building housing.

Annette Colfax, West L.A.