Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KPCC’s AirTalk about findings from the 2021 UCLA Quality of Life Index. The annual survey of Los Angeles County residents showed that 40% suffered a drop in income over the last year as the region was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Those are the people who are pessimistic, those are the people who are threatened with losing their apartments because they can’t make their rent payment at the end of the month,” said Yaroslavsky, who called on policymakers to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable. As one example, he noted that office space vacated as businesses downsize after the pandemic is “going to have huge implications for land use.” He asked, “What do you do with that empty office space? Can you repurpose it for housing, for example?” Several media outlets covered the Quality of Life Index, including the Los Angeles Times, KABC7 News and RealClear Politics.
The UCLA Luskin Summit concluded its 2021 season with a session delving into the sixth annual UCLA Quality of Life Index, a comprehensive look at residents’ satisfaction with life in Los Angeles County. Zev Yaroslavsky, who oversees the index as director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, led summit attendees through the most striking findings of the countywide survey, which was conducted in March. This year’s index put a spotlight on the COVID-19 pandemic’s harsh impact on household income, children’s education and confidence about the future. “What this survey has once again exposed is the two Los Angeleses that we have, the disparities by income, by race, by ethnicity, by age,” Yaroslavsky said. “And it’s not sustainable.” He called on policymakers to “focus on the people who don’t have the capacity to weather a storm like this” but acknowledged that the complex issues do not lend themselves to simple solutions or talking points. During the session, ABC7 News reporter Adrienne Alpert presented questions from the virtual audience on topics including rising fears of violent crime, a notable increase in civic engagement and the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. The April 19 webinar was the last of nine Luskin Summit sessions exploring pressing public policy issues under the banner “Called to Action.” The series began in January with a keynote address by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon; other sessions focused on issues such as housing insecurity, access to parks, sexual health, public transit and the numerous effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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