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Assessing Changing Public Attitude towards Homeless in Los Angeles County from 2009 to 2019 using Tweeter Texts

Authors: Shiqian Wang*, Florida State University
Topics: Urban Geography, United States, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Homeless, poverty, Los Angeles, public attitude, big data
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Homeless, defined as a person without regular night-time residence or sleep in places not meant for human habitation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), seems like a never-ending problem for societies, especially in large cities (Murphy & Eghaneyan, 2018). Although the total number of homeless people is decreasing gradually in the U.S. from 2007 to 2018, a rising trend is observed in Los Angeles and the city witnessed a 17% increase of homeless population in 2019 when compared with 2018 (Los Angeles Almanac, 2019). Public attitudes towards the homeless are influential for the policies, donations, and public help for the homeless. To better understand the changing public attitude and the causes of these changes, this study conducted a text analysis based on sentimental analysis and keyword analysis of tweeter data collected in the past 11 years associated with the homeless issue in Los Angeles. The detected changes in attitudes were then compared with the estimation of the homeless population in each year. This study validated a trend of a growing hostility attitude towards homeless people that was portrayed by large media (Barmann,2019). Also, a positive relationship between this hostility attitude and the number of the homeless population was detected.

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