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CITIES TODAY: US mayors seek better data to beat homelessness

January 20, 2022

In a recent survey of 126 US mayors, almost three-quarters (73 percent) said that voters hold them accountable for addressing homelessness, but only 19 percent believe they have substantial control over addressing the issue.

In the latest Menino Survey of Mayors, conducted by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities, leaders cited funding as their biggest barrier to tackling homelessness, alongside public opposition to new housing and shelters, limited staffing, poor coordination between different government and social service agencies, and lack of quality data.

“Mayors believe that their constituents care deeply about how they address homelessness. Yet, they perceive themselves as having little influence over the broader structural forces that create homelessness,” said Katherine Levine Einstein, Menino Survey Co-Author and Associate Professor of Political Science at Boston University. “Mayors are often forced to weigh the needs of unhoused people against resident and business complaints — all while managing a fragmented (and often underfunded) bureaucracy theoretically designed to manage the crisis.”

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