Homelessness in L.A., Russia's Military Woes, Educator Morale: RAND Weekly Recap

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August 19, 2022

This week, we discuss an L.A. County program designed to break the cycle of jail and homelessness; Russia's ongoing military struggles in Ukraine; the importance of educator morale; cybersecurity and U.S. elections; what to consider as NATO prepares to add two new members; and a new feature film on North Korea.

Homeless tent at the Old City Plaza at Arcadia and Main Streets, Los Angeles, photo by  Steve Cukrov/Alamy Stock

Photo by Steve Cukrov/Alamy Stock

Breaking the Cycle Between Jail and Homelessness

More than 66,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County. One of the many factors driving this crisis is incarceration, which increases the likelihood of homelessness, and vice versa. One L.A. program took aim at breaking this cycle, providing permanent supportive housing to more than 300 people who were previously in county jails.

According to a new RAND study, the program achieved a one-year housing stability rate of 82 percent. It also appears to significantly reduce participants' use of county services, such as emergency shelters and inpatient hospital care. The reductions offset much of the program costs and may lead to lower taxpayer spending on these services.

Our results suggest that providing permanent supportive housing may be a feasible alternative to incarceration for many people suffering from chronic health conditions.

An armoured convoy of Russian troops drives in Russian-held part of Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, July 23, 2022, photo by

An armored convoy of Russian troops drives through a Russian-held part of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, July 23, 2022

Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Russia Is Muddling Through

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, its military immediately took on more than it could bear. Six months later, Russia's depleted forces appear to be readying for another untenable mission: annexing key territory in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to RAND's Dara Massicot, Kyiv may have a more sustainable position than Moscow as the conflict enters this critical phase. But Russia's ongoing military troubles don't guarantee Ukrainian success. It may be wise to prepare for a protracted war, she says.

Stressed-looking male teacher leaning against a desk with one hand on his forehead, photo by SolStock/Getty Images

Photo by SolStock/Getty Images

As Kids Head Back to School, Educator Morale Matters

Teachers may not be leaving their jobs at higher rates than before the pandemic. But poor morale and job satisfaction among America's educators is still a big problem, say RAND experts. For example, if educators are burnt out, it can negatively affect student achievement. Additionally, low morale among educators might dissuade others from entering the field. Fortunately, there are steps that state and school district leaders can take to help.

A Board of Elections employee cleans a voting machine during early voting at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, October 29, 2020, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

A Board of Elections employee cleans a voting machine during early voting at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, October 29, 2020

Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuter

Prioritizing Cybersecurity to Protect U.S. Elections

America's elections are managed at the state and local levels and are made up of multiple components, such as pollbooks, voting machines, and websites. This model makes it difficult to develop a national picture of cybersecurity risk in U.S. election systems. To help state and local officials better understand the issue, RAND researchers have developed a method for prioritizing cybersecurity risk in election infrastructure.

U.S. President Joe Biden, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter and Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. Mikko Hautala, signs documents endorsing Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO, at the White House, in Washington, D.C., August 9, 2022, photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden signs documents endorsing Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO, Washington, D.C., August 9, 2022

Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

How Will NATO's New Members Affect the Alliance?

Finland and Sweden will soon become full NATO members. This reinforces Western unity in the face of Russian aggression, while also creating new challenges and opportunities for the alliance, says RAND's Gene Germanovich. For instance, what role will Finland and Sweden play in defending the northeastern flank? And how might the two Nordic nations bolster NATO's hybrid warfare capabilities? Overall, adding Finland and Sweden may lead to a stronger, smarter NATO, Germanovich says.

The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a mausoleum in Pyongyang, North Korea, photo by narvikk/iStock

The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a mausoleum in Pyongyang, North Korea

Photo by narvikk/iStock

How North Korea Evades Sanctions

The United Nations imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of Pyongyang's six nuclear weapons tests conducted between 2009 and 2016. A new feature-length film brings RAND research on this subject to life. The film chronicles the history of UN sanctions and breaks down the four main techniques Pyongyang uses to evade them: hard-currency generation, technology acquisition, covert transport of contraband goods, and covert financing and money laundering.

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