LA County

What's Weighing on the Minds of LA County Residents? UCLA Survey Says…

What's keeping LA County residents up at night? The latest UCLA quality of life index points to some possible answers.

An aerial image shows snow capped mountains on the horizon behind a view of apartment buildings and housing in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood March 2, 2023 in Los Angeles.
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What's on the minds of LA County residents in 2023?

Inflation, the homelessness crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic's lasting impacts and rising housing costs are among the chief concerns among residents in the nation's most populous county, according to a new UCLA survey.

The latest UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs' quality of life index was released Wednesday. Respondents showed nearly historic levels of dissatisfaction with their quality of life, but noted some improvements during the past year.

Inflation was solidly atop the list of matters impacting quality of life.

"Last year's record negativity appears to have bottomed out and made a slight upward turn," said Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative, who oversees the index. "But inflation has taken a toll, especially among lower- and middle-income residents."

Key LA County Quality of Life Takeaways

Here are some of the primary causes for concern, according to the survey.

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Inflation: Respondents expressed worry about losing their homes or feeding their families. Ninety-four percent of respondents said they were affected by inflation and the increase in costs of basic needs. And 71% said it had a major impact. Rising housing costs were identified as an issue by 82%, and 58 said it's a major concern.

Homelessness: Many residents said their quality of life had been affected by a particular homeless encampment. More than a quarter, or 28%, of respondents worried about losing their home and becoming homeless, while 25% were afraid their families will go hungry because they can't afford the cost of food. Nearly half of people in households earning less than $60,000 were concerned about becoming homeless. Almost three-quarters of residents, 73%, said their quality of life had been impacted in the last year by a particular homeless encampment. A major impact of the encampments was reported by 43% of respondents, with San Fernando Valley and Westside residents at 50% and San Gabriel Valley residents at 28%.

Pandemic: Many respondents said they believe the pandemic's impacts on the region will be long-lasting. Most respondents, 75%, said life has been fundamentally changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 23% expect life to return to the way it was before. Many respondents said their income changed during the pandemic, with 27% saying it went down and 30% saying it went up. More than a third, or 35%, of those with a household income below $60,000 said it declined. Nearly half, or 45%, of respondents with a household income over $120,000, said it rose.

How the Survey Was Conducted

The survey measures county residents' satisfaction levels in nine categories. The overall rating rose two points to 55, but it was still the second-lowest rating in the eight years of the project. The highest rating of 59 was recorded in 2016 and 2017.

This year's quality of life survey was based on interviews conducted with 1,429 county residents over 30 days beginning on Feb. 24. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6%.

Ratings were up slightly in all nine categories except health care, which remained the same as 2022.

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