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Weho Community Study Starts Next Week

One in four residents will receive a mailed survey aimed at assessing West Hollywood's social services needs.

West Hollywood residents will begin receiving a survey next week intended to gauge service priorities, according to the city's social services manager.

The survey, which will go out to one in four residents, is part of Weho's 2013 Community Study. The research effort will solicit residents' thoughts on public safety, mobility, economic factors and city-resident communication.

"The study will present analysis and comparisons of a number of significant city populations to the conditions and attitudes of the whole," according to a staff report presented to the City Council on Dec. 17. "In previous studies the following six groups were featured: gay men, seniors, families with children, households affected by HIV/AIDS, women, people living with disabilities, and immigrants from countries of the former Soviet Union."

At the behest of Councilman John D'Amico, the council added African-Americans, lesbians, transgender persons and youth to the list of demographic groups.

The study will utilize a survey, focus groups and community forums to gather data.

"(Focus groups) are an opportunity for people to talk about social services needs and satisfaction from their personal point of view of what kinds of social services they've accessed and what kinds of things their household needs now or will need in the future," Social Services Manager Daphne Dennis said.

"Pop-up workshops" will be held at various West Hollywood locations in February, as will the focus groups. Dennis said residents could suggest the types of social services the city should offer, how to allocate money for social services and ways to improve programs they've accessed.

A large-scale community forum takes place in March that will present the consultants' findings and give residents a chance to provide additional feedback.

"There will be lots of information for people to discover, and then an opportunity for them to talk in small groups again about social services priorities that the city should support," Dennis said.

The results of the survey will be presented to the City Council in April and will be available to social services agencies interested in applying for funding, Dennis said. Contracts with organizations that provide social services will start Oct. 1, Dennis said.

The last survey was in 2006. Dennis said the biggest difference between the last survey and the 2013 effort is the use of the Internet and computer technology to administer the survey and present information.

"Setting up shop where people are rather than expecting them to come to us is really a whole new effort that we're doing to try to improve community engagement," Dennis added.

The city's consulting firm is PMC, based in Northern California near Sacramento, documents show. The firm will receive $150,000 for conducting the survey.

The last community-wide study in West Hollywood was conducted in 2006.

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