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Pressing concerns over county high cost of living


New UCLA survey shows discontent

Concerns over the high cost of living pushed the satisfaction of Los Angeles County residents back to its lowest-ever level, with renters feeling especially pessimistic about their futures, according to a new UCLA survey.

The latest edition of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs' quality of life index reveals that despite the sunshine, beaches and excellent tacos, living in Los Angeles is essentially a downer for respondents.

The cost of living remains a primary concern as people worry about losing their homes or feeding their families. Many residents said homelessness in their area has gotten worse over the past year, with only 10% saying it has gotten better. Just 20% are more hopeful than they were last year that the homelessness situation in Los Angeles County will improve.

The survey measures county residents' satisfaction levels in nine categories. The overall rating fell two points from last year to 53 on a scale from 10 to 100, marking the second time in three years it fell below the survey's 55 midpoint since the index launched in 2016. That means a majority of respondents are dissatisfied with the overall quality of their lives. The highest rating of 59 was recorded in 2016 and 2017.

The cost of living rating dropped from 41 to 38, the lowest satisfaction score ever observed for any category in the survey. Although all major demographic subgroups rated the cost of living negatively, the lowest scores came from women, 36 (33 from those 50 to 64 years old) and Latinas, 36–as well as renters, 35.

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the UCLA study, said renters, who make up nearly half of survey respondents, are being disproportionately affected by the economic and inflationary pressures facing the region. More than half, or 59%, cited housing as the most important factor in their rating.

“Housing costs have gone up,'' Yaroslavsky said. “And incomes have not gone up anywhere near commensurate with what's happened to housing.''

While 61% of homeowners feel optimistic about their economic future in Los Angeles County, 51% of renters report being pessimistic. Only 23% of renters think they will be able to buy a home where they would want to live at some point in the future.

“We discovered very little optimism about whether the current programs and efforts to eradicate homelessness will work,'' Yaroslavsky said.

Respondents were also asked whether they worried about becoming homeless themselves, with the highest levels of anxiety expressed by people living in households earning less than $60,000 annually at 44%, renters 37% and Black residents 33%.

“Despite the best efforts of state and local officials, the public is more negative and less hopeful about solving homelessness,'' Yaroslavsky said.

The survey showed minor changes from the previous year in most categories. Satisfaction with education fell three points to 48, the second-lowest score behind cost of living; transportation/traffic remained among the three lowest categories in quality-of-life importance; and remote work remained highly favored, with about two thirds of respondents (67%) wishing they could work from home at least some of the time.