United to End Homelessness, an Orange County United Way Initiative, Partners with UCI to Prompt Solutions on Affordable Housing and Homelessness in Orange County
- Collaboration on 2023 UCI-OC Poll includes event bringing community leaders together to turn information into action and identify solutions
- Seven in 10 residents described homelessness as a “very serious” problem and 85% of respondents expressed support for a bond measure/tax increase to reduce homelessness
Orange County, Calif. (August 18, 2023) – United to End Homelessness, one of Orange County United Way three key initiatives, co-hosted a collaborative discussion with UCI’s School of Social Ecology this week to bring together researchers, policy makers and community leaders to discuss the results of the 2023 UCI-OC Poll and respondents’ views about Orange County’s homelessness and housing issues.
This discussion presented an opportunity for leaders and decision makers to learn the details of the poll findings from the research team and collaborate and shape the priorities of United to End Homelessness – turning information into action and sharing potential solutions to address homelessness.
In total, 818 adults across the county were surveyed about views on the most pressing social, economic, and political issues facing Orange County. Released this week, the poll’s primary conclusion is that Orange County residents seek action to address homelessness and affordable housing and are supportive of many policy responses.
According to the poll, seven in 10 residents (71%) described homelessness as a “very serious” problem and 69% had similar views regarding the county’s lack of affordable housing. Framing these high numbers through a personal lens, a majority (55%) of respondents stated they know someone who is or has been homeless. Additionally, more than half (52%) of respondents who rent have worried in the last year about being able to pay their rent and the threat of eviction, while one-fifth of homeowners (20%) have worried in the last year about being able to pay their mortgage and the risk of foreclosure.
“This survey demonstrates the personal impact of homelessness on Orange County residents and the groundswell of support behind finding tangible and dignified housing solutions,” said Becks Heyhoe, Executive Director of United to End Homelessness, Orange County United Way. “To see that a majority of respondents have personally known someone who is or has experienced homelessness reinforces why respondents are supporting a variety of solutions and are ready to take action.”
By wide margins, Orange County residents conveyed a collective responsibility to solve homelessness and the lack of affordable housing, seeking leadership from and partnership amongst County (66%) and City (66%) officials, nonprofits (42%), advocacy groups (34%), religious organizations (28%), and large companies (27%).
A large majority (85%) of respondents across varying demographics and geographic locations in the county expressed support for a bond measure/tax increase to reduce homelessness, along with other approaches including increased mental health services (88%), additional shelter resources (78%), and long-term housing for those experiencing homelessness (76%) amongst other solutions.
Using this data as a prompt for the collaborative session, the outcomes and ideas generated at the event will help inform United to End Homelessness’ immediate and long-term priorities within its primary programs and beyond, including:
- WelcomeHomeOC, a housing navigation and landlord incentive program to help individuals, veterans, and families experiencing homelessness to secure housing in private market apartments.
- Housing Advocacy, led by the Housing Champions Advocacy Network’s collection of community members who advocate for affordable and permanent supportive homes as best practice solutions that are needed in our community.
- Community Engagement, including broad public awareness activities to break down myths, create productive conversation and outline best practices for solutions through social media, speaking engagements, online events, classes, social media, and other public educational opportunities.
“This poll demonstrates the power of bringing people together to solve local challenges like homelessness and housing issues while reinforcing the vision behind establishing United to End Homelessness five years ago,” added Heyhoe. “Although progress has been made, we now have data demonstrating the commitment and will of residents to get involved and support solutions for the collective well-being of Orange County. We look forward to collaborating with our partners to address these needs and solve them together.”
UCI’s School of Social Ecology is committed to finding solutions for society’s greatest problems. In the 1980s, the School sponsored the Orange County Annual Survey and after a decades-long hiatus, it has brought back the survey with the 2023 UCI-OC Poll.
“Orange County needs reliable widespread survey data on the issues confronting residents, even as the challenges facing the county multiply. As Orange County’s hometown research university, we are dedicated to meeting this need and to helping to bring together business leaders with elected officials and community members to discuss workable responses to these problems,” says Jon Gould, dean of the School of Social Ecology. “Whether the issues concern housing, education, business climate, sustainability, transportation, crime or many other challenges, area leaders will be better equipped to navigate the local environment and respond if they have reliable, timely data on the attitudes, priorities and opinions of OC residents and a neutral place and convener to consider them.”
For more information about United to End Homelessness, visit unitedtoendhomelessness.org.
ABOUT UNITED TO END HOMELESSNESS
Launched in February 2018, United to End Homelessness is led by a diverse group of leaders from Orange County’s top business, philanthropic, governmental, faith-based and nonprofit organizations – all committed to ending homelessness in our community. Our work is grounded in bringing the recommendations of the 2017 UC Irvine study “Homelessness in Orange County: The Costs to Our Community” to life, with Orange County United Way serving as the backbone of this new collaborative effort. Together we are working to bring the issue of homelessness to the forefront of the community’s collective discussion and create civic engagement that will lead to meaningful and lasting results. Together we can and we will #EndHomelessnessOC. For more information, please visit unitedtoendhomelessness.org.
ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY
Orange County United Way is committed to breaking barriers and improving lives for everyone who lives here. Through our key initiatives—United for Student Success℠, United for Financial Security℠, and United to End Homelessness℠—we are working to ensure local students succeed, struggling OC families gain financial security, and our homeless neighbors find a place to call home. We also offer vital support via 2-1-1 Orange County (211OC), a key service that connects thousands of our most vulnerable residents with health and human service resources. We are committed to caring for one another. That’s #TheOCWay.
To learn more or discover how you can help, visit UnitedWayOC.org.
Orange County United Way is a standalone, independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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