RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles

House-shaped wooden blocks being placed in a row. Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Matt Bush / Getty Images

The shortage of affordable housing in Southern California, coupled with the increases in people experiencing homelessness, has highlighted the urgent need for innovative policy solutions to address the dual crises facing Los Angeles.

Despite numerous initiatives and resources, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles has continued to increase. Steadily rising home prices, legal challenges to planned housing developments, and lack of coordination among service entities have all contributed to this lack of progress. Furthermore, front line workers and the individuals experiencing homelessness, who have the experiences and knowledge necessary to drive change, often lack a voice in formulating policy. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated existing challenges, with rising unemployment and the potential for an unprecedented wave of evictions. It also presents potential for new policies and solutions, such as incentives to foster conversion of underutilized commercial and retail space to much-needed residential use.

The Center for Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles, launched as part of RAND’s Tomorrow Demands Today fundraising campaign, was developed to address both the demand and supply sides of the housing and homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The center brings together interdisciplinary expertise, rigorous data collection, and analytic methods to address the challenges of providing affordable housing solutions in one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation and to better understand and serve the needs of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

Research Agenda

The center’s research focus areas include

  • working to align incentives among stakeholders, including people experiencing homelessness, community members, service providers, housing developers, and policymakers
  • exploring broad questions concerning the supply and demand for housing and services, including the disproportionate impacts on communities of color and the needs of subpopulations such as veterans
  • addressing the effects of COVID-19, including policies to reduce the flow of individuals into homelessness and exploring opportunities such as the adaptive reuse of underutilized commercial real estate for housing.

Research and Commentary

RAND's work has tackled some of the most pressing policy issues related to housing and homelessness. We've highlighted a sample of research and commentary below that address these topics.

Housing Supply

Homeless Services

  • A tiny home village in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2021, photo by Ted Soqui/Sipa USA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Camping Bans and Group Shelters Unlikely to Solve Homelessness Crisis

    Should Los Angeles continue to direct most resources toward creating permanent housing with services? Or should it try to rapidly add more group shelters and shared tiny homes which would allow the city to enforce camping bans in certain areas? There are compelling arguments for both approaches.

    May 23, 2022

Criminal Justice

Special Populations

  • Encampment of tents with American flags in Los Angeles, photo by Bethany/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Expanding Outreach Services Could Help Veterans Find Stable Housing

    Only three in a group of 26 unhoused veterans in Los Angeles were able to obtain permanent housing even though they lived near a major VA service center. The housing options available did not meet their desire for autonomy, safety, security, and privacy. Tailoring services to veterans' needs could help.

    Nov 11, 2021

Technology

  • A woman uses a cell phone on downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, March 6, 2013, photo  by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Commentary

    Access to Mobile Technology Could Help with Homelessness

    The vast majority of people experiencing homelessness have cell phones, which often serve as their lifelines. Providing technological supports, such as Wi-Fi access and opportunities to charge devices, could result in better access to social services and, ultimately, better quality of life and outcomes.

    Sep 16, 2020

See more RAND research on Homelessness

Funding

The RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles was established through a generous gift from the Lowy family.