Forecast LA: It’s time to focus on homelessness, mental health and public safety

Forecast LA: It’s time to focus on homelessness, mental health and public safety

Published Tuesday, April 24, 2018
by Jessica Lall

This letter was published in Forecast LA 2018, which is an annual survey done by The Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

Los Angeles is a world-class city renowned for its diversity and creativity, and Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is at the heart of it all. It's not only the region's transit hub and center for economic growth, but home to exceptional educational facilities, cultural attractions and hospitality venues. DTLA has experienced an incredible transformation over the last two decades and continues to grow. It hasn't seen this much construction since the Roaring Twenties and will be home to 200,000 residents by 2040. DTLA only represents one percent of the city's land but is projected to see 20 percent of its population growth, and we encourage that and are excited about the future. As we've seen first-hand with DTLA residents and employees, Forecast LA also shows that Angelenos are optimistic about the future but have concerns.

Central City Association is committed to enhancing DTLA's vibrancy and increasing investment in the region. We understand the importance of assessing public opinion to shape our priorities and advocacy agenda. This poll shows that the challenges we need to focus on are homelessness, public safety and mental health resources, and that Angelenos expect our government to lead the way.

Our region is facing a homelessness crisis, an issue which clearly shows that we are struggling to meet our collective moral, health, political and economic responsibilities. Many cities across the nation are also experiencing this, but L.A. is unique in both the sheer scale and unprecedented growth of our unsheltered homeless population. The good news is that Angelenos are very compassionate and generous people. They were willing to tax themselves to increase services and housing for homeless individuals with Measure H and Proposition HHH. And this year's poll shows that they are still willing to increase taxes for this issue. Ending homelessness is the most important challenge we face, and we are proud that Angelenos are committed to working with elected leaders and government agencies on this problem.

Mental Health
We know from the crises we witness on our streets every day that mental health resources matter. It's clear that we are failing to provide adequate resources for Angelenos with mental illnesses, and overwhelmingly, the public feels the Department of Public Health is accountable. We need to work collaboratively with our government leaders to improve access to care and prioritize mental health resources as we plan for our city's future.

Public Safety
This year, residents are more hesitant to recommend our city as a safe place to live. A majority also don't feel that there is a strong presence of police in their neighborhoods. This sentiment is especially important in a year where the City is searching for a new Chief of Police. It is clear that we need to do more to make Angelenos feel safe.

Los Angeles is a city of opportunity and we can address these challenges with coordinated collaboration. We look forward to working with all of you.