Quality of life in L.A. measured in study

first_imgIt found some gains in education and public safety, but noted the region’s residents are struggling to get by financially as housing and transportation costs increase and wages remain relatively stagnant. Lack of access to affordable health care and high incidences of several chronic diseases and obesity also leave the county well below quality standards, it said. The two-year study was funded privately by Dominic Ng of Pasadena, president of East West Bank, headquartered on Los Robles Avenue. Ng, a 10-year United Way board member, said he didn’t know how much the project cost, but it came from his accumulated annual contributions to the charity. “I personally feel that everyone who lives in the county of Los Angeles would like to improve the quality of life for themselves and future generations,” Ng said. “We put out this index as a benchmark to measure against next year when we revisit the pivotal areas of education, economic status, health care and public safety.” Ng said the United Way wanted to provide decision- and law-makers at community, county and state levels with cohesive information about areas of highest concern. “\ is innovative,” Ng said. “We want to be a leader on this front, not only to be a charity that takes money and turns around and gives money to other charities. To think we can raise money to fix all our problems is somewhat naive … It’s important to us to open the eyes of the public and policy-makers about critical areas we need to address all together.” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the report echoes an alarm he has been trying to raise since his election. “This confirms what I have been saying on the need to change our school system,” he told more than 400 business leaders gathered at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel to review the findings. “We have an emergency situation where we have to get parents and teachers involved and make sure we are providing the education that is needed to succeed in the 21st century. “It is not about preparing our kids for failure. It is about preparing them to do the jobs that will be needed in the coming years.” Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, agreed with Villaraigosa and said the county’s future hinges on major changes. “Educational improvements are an emergency situation in Los Angeles,” Cisneros said. “Unless there are improvements, we are faced with an ugly scenario and the impact will not just be felt here. It will be felt everywhere.” The report cited figures showing only 60 percent of high school seniors graduate on time, with only one in four eligible for higher education. It also showed just 12 percent of ninth-graders are proficient in algebra, while only about 30 percent of third-graders are reading at grade level. “There have been improvements in educational achievement over the past few years, but we are still far behind in adequately preparing young people for the 21st century economy,” the report’s authors wrote. Villaraigosa attributed some of the findings to the large immigrant population in the area. But he said it also reflects changes in a local economy in which the middle class is being driven out. “It is not just taxes and housing that keep people from staying in Los Angeles and threaten the middle class,” Villaraigosa said. “It is all these factors of schools, public safety and health care that are affecting us.” Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said the index is important in providing a broad picture of life in Southern California and why people choose to stay and work here. “Just as the Dow Jones Index produces a single figure to track conditions in the stock market, the quality-of-life index provides an objective measure for tracking how Los Angeles County is doing,” Buik said. “What people may not realize is how closely these factors are interrelated. Businesses are not going to come and stay in Los Angeles if their employees can’t afford housing. Breakdowns in our health care or educational system directly impact the strength of our workforce and overall economy.” [email protected] (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Despite improvements in recent years, the overall quality of life in Los Angeles County remains far from good, and the region faces a bleak future unless it can launch broad reforms in everything from education to housing, according to a report released Wednesday. The benchmark study by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles is the first for the region and compared local, state and national indicators in education, the economy, health and public safety over the past five years. With a score of 10 signifying a good quality of life, Los Angeles County got a rating of just 7.32. California as a whole scored 8.08. “Although a region of great wealth and roughly one-third of the population of California, Los Angeles County is behind the state in every part of the index,” the report said. last_img

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