California Voters Voice Concerns Over Access to Basic Resources, New UC Possibility Lab and Institute of Governmental Studies Survey Finds

The Possibility Lab released findings from a poll administered in partnership with the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) that sheds light on Californians’ struggles to access essential resources. Conducted in January 2024, the survey of 8,199 California voters examined access to 12 fundamental necessities, including housing, food, water, and employment. Over half of those surveyed express difficulty accessing at least some essential goods and services, while nearly three-quarters agree or strongly agree that it is difficult to access housing they can afford in their area. The poll was conducted as part of the Possibility Lab’s Abundance Accelerator, a large-scale initiative leveraging research, innovation, and collaboration to advance policy solutions that promote abundance in California and beyond.

“Our poll shows that a huge number of Californians are struggling to access basic resources like housing, eldercare, childcare and healthy foods,” said Professor Amy E. Lerman, Executive Director of the Possibility Lab. “We need policy solutions that tackle these gaps in a meaningful way, so that all Californians can live full, dignified lives with access to the essentials they need. By leveraging innovation to redesign systems of production and distribution, we can unlock abundance and mitigate scarcity.”

“California is a state with enormous wealth and economic productivity, yet the survey results make it clear that a majority of the state’s residents are finding it difficult to access basic resources,” said IGS Co-Director Eric Schickler. “The housing affordability crisis has finally reached the top of the political agenda; these results suggest that the costs of eldercare and childcare warrant a similar focus.”

Key insights from the survey reveal:

  • Over half of California voters express difficulty accessing at least some essential goods and services.
  • Almost three-quarters of Californians report difficulty finding housing they can afford where they live, highlighting the severity of the state’s housing crisis.
  • Challenges in accessing affordable eldercare and childcare are reported by more than half of Californians, regardless of income level.
  • More than one-third of respondents face obstacles in securing good jobs, education, healthy food, or affordable energy.
  • Cell phone service emerges as one of the easiest resources to access, with clean water also relatively accessible.

Demographic disparities were evident:

  • Perceptions of scarcity decrease as household income increases, except for childcare and eldercare.
  • Rural residents report greater scarcity overall, while urban residents struggle with affordable housing and safe gathering spaces.
  • Across all basic resources we asked about, female voters are more likely to report difficulty accessing those resources, relative to male voters.
  • Black, Latino/Latina/Hispanic, and Native American/American Indian voters express more scarcity concerns compared to white and Asian or Pacific Islander voters.

Age also influences some types of resource access:

  • As age increases, Californians are less likely to report scarcity in housing, education, and jobs but face increasing challenges with childcare and eldercare.
  • No significant age-related differences were found for other essential resources.

Information on survey methodology and detailed tabulations are available in the full report.