This assessment of community needs was conducted under the auspices of the City of West Hollywood to ensure that human services meet the evolving needs of community residents. The primary data sources include a telephone and mail survey conducted specifically for this report, and a series of focus group discussions with residents of West Hollywood. The report also draws extensively on the 1980 and 1990 U.S. Census of Population and Housing for Los Angeles County and for the City of West Hollywood. The telephone interview survey and mail survey together yielded 832 responses, sampling about 3.6 percent of all households in the City.
Community Profile of West Hollywood
West Hollywood is largely a City of white single adults living alone in apartments, with notably strong concentrations of gay men, seniors (especially older women), and recent immigrants from Russia. Education levels and rates of employment are high, and the City has a strikingly high proportion of white collar workers in the entertainment industry. But the pattern of one-person households does mean that housing costs for those on low incomes can be very high, and poverty is not unusual.
Community Priorities for Social Services
The top five services rated as highly important by the greatest number of respondents were information about AIDS, HIV testing, information on all services, library services, and protection against discrimination. Library services and information on all services were both issues which were mentioned most frequently by many of the sub-groups within the population of West Hollywood. As such, they reflect services with a very wide appeal. AIDS, HIV and discrimination, on the other hand, were rated as highly important by a very large proportion of gay and lesbian respondents as well as parents, Spanish speakers, and persons with HIV or AIDS. While other respondents gave them high ratings less often, the numbers were enough to propel them into the top five. In particular, AIDS information and HIV testing represent City services which could educate and protect citizens from harm in the future, and so represent a governmental function and investment which accord with many views on the role of government.
Six major themes and conclusions emerge from completed surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Information gathered for this report shows:
- Widespread deep affection for the City, and strong attachment to local institutions that are open to all, and that serve the needs of residents for public interaction and use of their City space. Especially important here are the Cityline shuttle and the library.
- Consensus on the importance of AIDS as a crucial issue and a shared perception that there is much to do in HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
- Concern over how to maintain an independent life (especially relevant for singles) in the face of health problems and advancing age. This is a common issue for people with HIV, for seniors, for low-income families, and for people with disabilities.
- Concern over nurturing a community that is tolerant of diversity and protects members against discrimination. Some deep divisions exist among residents, as well as resentment over perceived unfairness.
- Indications of an unfulfilled yearning for community that encompasses both smaller lifestyle groupings (e.g. lesbians, parents) and a City-wide community. The fact that West Hollywood has so many single-person households gives it a distinctive character, creating opportunities for the construction of especially strong links across households to networks of friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and also to the community in general. Many residents seek greater opportunities to create a well-used and lively public space, populated by people who value friendly contact and mixing with others in the City.
- That social services being provided by the City generally correspond with residents’ perceptions of community needs and priorities. Information from this community needs assessment should be used primarily to enhance the quality of existing services and adjust levels of financial support to correspond with community priorities, rather than to build new services.
- Executive Summary
- Data and Methodology (832 survey respondents)
- Community Profile
- Community Priorities for Social Services
- Older Adults
- Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Adults
- Russian-Speaking Immigrants
- Spanish-Speaking Immigrants
- Families with Children
- People with Disabilities
- People HIV Positive and/or Living with AIDS
- Conclusions and Recommendations.