What Do Unhoused People Want Most? Ask Them

Two Recent Studies Bridge the Gap Between Well-Intentioned Plans and What Those Experiencing Homelessness Actually Need

Government officials, activists, academics, homeowners, and two very competitive mayoral candidates constantly explain what the over 69,144 unhoused people living in Los Angeles County need and want. But you know whom we rarely hear from?

Homeless people.

Google all you want: You’ll find a lot of surveys about what housed people in L.A. think about unhoused people. You’ll find endless columns on what experts opine. But until recently, you’d be hard-pressed to find studies asking the people actually experiencing homelessness what they think should be done about the crisis.

Two recent surveys do …

Stop Using Homelessness to Hate on California | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Stop Using Homelessness to Hate on California

A Tradition as Old as the State Itself Has Caused Lasting Damage

In California, homelessness is a long-running crisis. And it is a human tragedy for an estimated 160,000 unhoused people.

But homelessness is also incredibly useful for anyone who wants to complain …

Why Won’t Policymakers Talk More About Drugs and Homelessness?

A Strict ‘Housing First’ Approach Oversimplifies the Complexity of a West Coast Epidemic

More than half of America’s unsheltered population lives in just three states—California, Oregon, and Washington—and West Coast voters are demanding a response. Homelessness ranked as the top concern in a …

Let the People of California Solve the State’s Homelessness Crisis | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Let the People of California Solve the State’s Homelessness Crisis

A Citizens' Assembly Could Unify People Around a Thorny Problem and Succeed Where Politicians Have Failed

Dear Governor Newsom,

You’ve made herculean efforts to address the complexities of California’s long-running homelessness crisis. So have other state, federal, and local officials around the Golden State.

But while you’ve all …

Where Would I Sleep on the Streets of Los Angeles?

Taking Part in the Annual Survey of Unhoused Angelenos Helps Connect Me to All the People in My Adopted Home

If I were sleeping outside … where would I be? 

We’d been invited to ask ourselves this question as we walked the streets in the dead of night, canvassing for strangers. …

Our Favorite Events of 2021

New Ideas, a New Home, and a New Hybrid Event Format Connected Us With Angelenos—and Audiences Around the World

Over 18 years and 650 events since we hosted our inaugural Zócalo event in 2003, Zócalo Public Square remains as fiercely committed as ever to bringing people together around ideas. …