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AMERICAN CITY AND COUNTY- Accountable yet feeling powerless: Report highlights challenges mayors face in addressing homelessness

January 19, 2022

Homelessness is a societal problem that’s not easily fixed. It’s a political challenge for mayors as much as it is a civic one—one that requires a collaborative effort from many stakeholders, not just a single political leader.

The 2021 Menino Survey, published this month, sheds light on these challenges through mayoral perspectives on homelessness and the related responsibilities and opportunities that come with municipal leadership.

“The findings of the survey were many,” said Jake Maguire, principal at Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness, which collaborated with Boston University on the project. “The biggest one is that the overwhelming majority of mayors felt like they were held accountable for homelessness, and the overwhelming majority felt like they were powerless.”

Specifically, 73 percent of the 126 sitting mayors from 39 states surveyed for the project reported they felt constituents held them “highly accountable for addressing homelessness in their communities, but 81 percent feel that homelessness in their cities is outside of their control,” a brief from Community Solutions about the findings says.

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