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 on 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

  • Report

    Workers in Homeless Services Often Do Not Earn a Living Wage

    Workers employed by nonprofit homeless services agencies in Los Angeles County, particularly frontline staff, often do not earn a living wage. Paying them higher wages could improve the quality of their work by boosting morale, easing stress, and reducing turnover.

    May 10, 2023

Criminal Justice

Special Populations

  • 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


  • 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


A logo for the A-Mark Foundation

The RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles was established through a generous gift from the Lowy family. Support from the A-Mark Foundation is helping the center address unsheltered homelessness in Los Angeles.