February 27, 2020 — A new report released today by the California Policy Lab at UCLA sheds light on the employment histories of people before, during, and after receiving homelessness services in Los Angeles. By studying enrollment and wages data for more than 130,000 homeless service clients, the authors found that a majority of people (74%) who experienced homelessness in Los Angeles had some work history in California, and that more than one-third (37%) were working in the two years prior to becoming homeless. Only about one in five (19%) were working in the calendar quarter they became homeless, and their annual wages were very low. Their average annual earnings were only $9,970, which is 16% of the Area Median Income for Los Angeles.

“There’s often an assumption that people experiencing homelessness are not working,” explained Till von Wachter, a UCLA economic professor, co-author of the report, and faculty director of the California Policy Lab at UCLA. “While it’s true that some individuals in our study had not worked in a long time, a substantial number – close to half – were working within four years before entering homelessness. These recent workers had a higher likelihood of returning to work after receiving services and their average wages were also higher. The results from our study on who is most likely to work after enrolling for homeless services can be used to tailor workforce programs to encourage employment and raise earnings of homeless service clients.”

The researchers had three additional main findings:

  • There are predictable differences in employment rates after service enrollment. Those with recent employment and younger individuals had substantially higher levels of employment after receiving services. To a lesser degree, adults in families, and individuals without mental and physical health issues had also higher employment rates as compared to the entire sample. These differences can be used to better target reemployment services to those most likely to find gainful employment.
  • For some groups, employment rates improved at the same time that they enrolled to receive homeless services, although this is not necessarily a causal relationship. Individuals who worked in the four years prior to experiencing homelessness had substantial reductions in their employment rates prior to becoming homeless (dropping from 46% two years before enrolling to 33% in the quarter before enrolling). However, for some recent workers, their employment rates increased after enrolling, for example, the employment rate for adults in families increased from 39% to 44%. Individuals in transitional housing and people who came from stable housing also saw increases in employment rates after enrolling in services.
  • Most individuals work in just a few industries: 65% of people who were employed worked in one of four industries prior to enrolling to receive services, and those that found employment after enrollment were typically concentrated in those industries. This has implications for job training and placement programs that are intended to support people either to prevent homelessness or to help people as they transition out of homelessness.

Additional research findings

  • 86% of adults in families were employed at some point prior to service enrollment as compared to 75% for single adults, and 61% for transition aged youth aged 18-24.
  • 47% of people were working in the four years prior to becoming homeless, and 37% were employed within two years of their homeless spell. On average, people had worked in two of the four quarters before service enrollment.
  • There are 12 categories of homelessness support services. People enrolled in homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing projects had the highest rates of employment in the two years before enrollment, at 67% and 56%, respectively.
  • 72% of people who reported mental health issues at enrollment had worked previously, 76% reporting substance abuse concerns had worked previously, and 72% reporting physical disabilities had worked previously.
  • In the year before enrolling for services, 24% of individuals who reported substance abuse concerns had worked in the year prior to enrolling along with 20% who reported mental health issues and 17% who reported physical disabilities. This compares to an overall sample average of 29% of individuals who were employed in the year prior to enrollment.
  • Individuals coming from stable housing prior to enrolling in services had higher quarterly employment rates and experienced more of an employment recovery after enrolling for services as compared to people who had been homeless for three months or more at the time of service enrollment.
  • Recent workers (defined as having worked three or four years before service enrollment) had higher quarterly earnings in the quarter of service enrollment (22% more than the full sample) and had higher annual earnings in the second year after service enrollment ($13,311 for the full sample versus $15,880 for recent workers).

Methodology

The research team linked enrollment data from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) from the time period of 2010 to 2018 for individuals aged 18 to 70 at the time of enrollment to state employment records from the California Employment Development Department for the time period from 1995 to 2018. The analysis was then performed on de-identified data. The full sample size was 136,726 individuals. For more details, read the report, or the accompanying technical appendix.  Download the report, HERE.

Additional Background and future research

While this report provides a baseline understanding of employment rates among people receiving homeless services in Los Angeles, the authors caution that more research is needed to develop specific policy recommendations. Future research should look at whether job loss is the direct cause of homelessness and for whom, and how workforce and training programs could either prevent homelessness or speed up exits from homelessness. This report did not include data on income supports from programs like Supplemental Security Income, General Relief, CalWORKs, or CalFRESH that would help to better understand the income situation of homeless service clients.

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The California Policy Lab

The California Policy Lab creates data-driven insights for the public good. Our mission is to partner with California’s state and local governments to generate scientific evidence that solves California’s most urgent problems, including homelessness, poverty, crime, and education inequality. We facilitate close working partnerships between policymakers and researchers at the University of California to help evaluate and improve public programs through empirical research and technical assistance.

Contact:
Sean Coffey: sean@capolicylab.org

(919) 428-1143

UCLA History Professor Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Distinguished Professor & Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Social Sciences, was recently awarded the International Prize of History by the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS). The award will be presented at a ceremony in Poznań, Poland, in August 2020, at the XXIII Congress of the ICHS, which is held every five years. This prize–now in its third edition–honors a historian who has distinguished themself in the field of history by their works, publications or teaching, and has significantly contributed to the development of historical knowledge. Professor Subrahmanyam’s work is being recognized for his contributions to the progress of historical research and to the dialogue between cultures, opening many new perspectives and training generations of scholars.

L.A. Social Science would like to congratulate Professor Subrahmanyam for being recognized for his excellent work through this award.

In case you missed it:

*On December 13, 2019, in a one-of-a-kind listening session at the Hammer Museum, UCLA musicology professor Shana Redmond brought together critics, scholars, and musicians to reflect on the creativity and significance of the album Black on Both Sides by Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def). The album, which turned 20 last year, combines sonic complexity with lyrics that reflect the musician’s strong political beliefs and is consistently cited as one of the top ten hip-hop albums of all time. Redmond was joined by Sohail Daulatzai, film and media studies and African American studies professor at UC Irvine; emcee and comedian Open Mike Eagle; film and TV music supervisor Morgan Rhodes, co-host of Heat Rocks podcast; and DJ Lynnée Denise. Watch the video HERE.

*Event description provided by the Hammer Museum

American Indian Studies at UCLA is an interdisciplinary IDP with a long history of working with and for tribal communities. When it was announced by UNESCO that it would celebrate this year of Indigenous Languages as important repositories of traditions, memory, and cultural heritage, we reflected on the work that has been done at UCLA. Our work with community members in relationship to languages emphasizes the importance of Indigenous knowledges and knowledge keepers. The faculty at UCLA thrive to implement ethical and meaningful flows of information from our campus to Indigenous communities. Language is just one way American Indian Studies excels at UCLA by working with communities.

The following photos provide a glimpse into the study of indigenous languages at UCLA. All photos are courtesy of Ken Scott Photo. To learn more, visit the UCLA American Indian Studies website HERE.

Renee White Eyes and Talia Gomez Quintana explore the use of technology, gaming, and language learning.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

Professor David Delgado Shorter discusses the connection between indigenous languages and perception.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

Professor Mishuana Goeman uses the Wiki for Indigenous Languages in a UCLA classroom.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

Clementine Bordeaux and Theodore Shulsky use the Wiki for Indigenous Languages, created by UCLA Professor David Delgado Shorter.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

The LA Social Science e-forum interviewed UCLA Department of Communication alum, Michael Allen, ’86. During this interview, LA Social Science learned more about Mr. Allen’s LA Social Science Story.

LA Social Science would like to thank Mr. Allen for allowing us to learn about his story and the advising work he continues to do in support of the Division of Social Sciences.

What is your LA Social Science Story?

By Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, and Marisol Granillo Arce, Graduate Student Researcher

UCLA Labor Center

On October 24, 2019, filmmakers, photographers, poets, and musicians of color presented their original works on the resilience and power of immigrant working families in Los Angeles. The exhibit, including photos and short film presentations, is an initiative of the UCLA Labor Center’s Parent Worker Project, an applied research project that lifts up low-wage working parents as experts on their children’s education and communities.

Working Families in Focus is the first photo exhibit and film shorts program directed by Los Angeles artists of color to capture the lives of janitors, garment and domestic workers at their unions or worker centers, along with their children. Wil Prada, UCLA alum, filmmaker, and photographer, curated the exhibit highlighting nine themes: 1) The Parent Worker Project, 2) Unions and Worker Centers, 3) Tutoring, 4) Accessing Institutions of Higher Learning: A Public University Belongs to the Public, 5) Working-Class Parents Care about Children’s Education, 6) What Motivates Me Is My Children, 7) Parents as First Teachers, 8) Celebrating and Recognizing Parents’ Efforts, and 9) Connecting Communities. Parents, children, workers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers came together to share their common experiences and give visibility and dignity to the contributions of low-wage working families.

The UCLA Labor Center obtained a grant in 2014 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for an initiative to focus on early education activities with local janitors and their children through Building Skills Partnership and SEIU-United Service Workers West. We documented the project’s success in “Janitors are Parents Too! Promoting Parent Advocacy in the Labor Movement,” a chapter in the Beacon Press publication Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement. As a result, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation renewed its commitment to support similar programming with low-wage garment and domestic workers and their children. Using a train-the-trainer model, the second phase of the project trained parent workers to confidently talk with their peers about navigating the school system and accessing community resources such as libraries, museums, financial institutions, and specialized programs, putting parents at the center of current public education reform and leadership advocacy efforts.

As a compliment to the project, the team organized a formal tutoring project through which selected UCLA undergraduate students received scholarships to tutor garment and domestic workers’ children while the children’s parents participated in adult education classes and training sessions.

The Working Families in Focus exhibit took place at the UCLA Labor Center’s downtown community site and was sponsored by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Los Angeles Garment Worker Center, IDEPSCA-Mujeres en Acción, Building Skills Partnership, and the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies. Please come to the UCLA Labor Center at 675 S. Park View Street to view this powerful exhibit, or contact Janna Shadduck-Hernández at jshernandez@irle.ucla.edu for further information.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D. is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for the UCLA labor studies major and in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research and teaching focus on developing culturally relevant, participatory educational models with first- and second-generation university students, community members, and youth. Her research and policy work also examine the organizing efforts of low-wage immigrant workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Marisol Granillo Arce is a graduate student researcher with the Labor Center’s Parent Worker project and a UCLA MSW and MPH candidate. She is also a trained facilitator of the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors bilingual curriculum to promote early childhood parent engagement to advance the long-term academic success of low-income K-12 students.

The UCLA Asian American Studies Department, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), are very pleased to announce their conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of Asian American Studies at UCLA — “Power to the People”: 50 Years of Bridging Research with Community. 

We hope you can attend as diverse and inter-generational communities are brought together to appreciate the legacies, genealogies, and futures of Asian American studies and communities. We hope you connect with many people and organizations at the event.  With community engagement at the heart of the field, we strive to strengthen the connection between the university and community-based organizations. We encourage you to discover how to bridge research and theory with our communities, as well as how to find ways to engage with current movements and issues.

Also, be sure to check out “UCLA: Our Stories, Our Impact,” a multimedia traveling exhibit sharing the stories of Bruins who have advanced equity and equality in America, that will be shown in the lobby of the Tateuchi Democracy Forum as well as in UCLA Luskin Commons Room 3383. Learn more about the exhibit at “Our Stories, Our Impact.”

Let us continue to build the power of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and work towards our collective futures – rooted in our histories, furthered by our communal experiences and research, and strengthened by our visions of social justice.

For more information on the conference, including registration, please visit aasc.ucla.edu/aasc50/conf19/.  The event is free and open to the public.  Space is limited, so be sure to register before the conference is full.

Since 2015, TEDxUCLA has provided a platform for innovative thinkers to share powerful ideas. This year’s event included a talk by Bill Simon, the Co-Founder of UCLA Health Sound Body Sound Mind Foundation through UCLA Health. This organization is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity by providing grants to equip middle and high schools with state-of-the-art fitness programs, a comprehensive curriculum and professional development for physical education teachers.

Bill Simon is an adjunct professor in both the Department of Economics and the Law School at UCLA, recipient of the Marty Skyler My Last Lecture Award, and a former Republican nominee for California governor. In 1988, he and his wife, Cindy, created the foundation to help schools bolster their lagging physical education programs. The organization joined forces with UCLA Health in 2015. To date, the program is in 141 schools nationally (127 in the Los Angeles area) and serves more than 170,000 students each year.

In his Ted Talk, Professor Simon addressed the importance of his Physical Education (PE) along with his plea to prioritize and fund PE at all schools for all children. He addresses the critical gains made if PE was a requirement at schools. Professor Simon implores that not only would regular exercise decrease obesity and future disease, but that it teaches children vital tools such as perseverance and resistance needed to be successful in their future. Professor Simon’s compelling story about his autistic son teaches us that Physical Education is needed as the foundation for a healthy start for children to build their character and connect mind, body, and spirit.

Starting his talk with a Pop-Quiz, Professor Simon moves to inform us of the transcendent value that is often undervalued, including social, intellectual and academic spaces. With parents battling to make sure kids aren’t spending too many hours in front of screens, Professor Simon reminds us that moving more is good for not only our body, but also for our minds. Ultimately, we are encouraged to understand why physical education is a student’s most important subject.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. To view the entire talk, click HERE.

Six new UCLA ladder faculty members were presented with the inaugural Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Scholars, supported by both the Chancellor’s Office and the UCLA Center for Community Learning, for the 2019-2020 academic year. Each recipient will receive $10,000 towards supporting their own community-engaged research and design to implement in an undergraduate course. For the purposes of this award, “Community-engaged research, in this context, encompasses research and creative work across all fields that address an agenda of social justice and create reciprocal value with community partners. At its best, community-engaged research both achieves high levels of scholarly recognition within a field and advances efforts to redress social inequalities” (UCLA Internal Funding Opportunities). This is a strong cohort who meets the community-engaged research standards and whose work will be a major contribution to academic scholarship.

This well-deserved honor calls for celebration and congratulations to all the awardees, but especially to the three faculty members from our Division, Drs. Maylei Blackwell, Marissa Lopez, and Meredith Phillips. Below is a list of all the recipients, their department, and a short description of their community-engaged research project.

  • Maylei Blackwell, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies. In her course, Blackwell plans to use community archives and oral histories to map the Latin American indigenous diaspora in Los Angeles.
  • Arleen Brown, professor of medicine. In Brown’s course, students will work with community organizations and academic faculty to reduce chronic disease disparities in Los Angeles County through community-engaged collaborative projects.
  • Jenny Jay, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Jay’s course will center around environmental research that engages community members.
  • Marissa Lopez, associate professor of English and Chicana and Chicano studies. In Lopez’s course, students will partner with the Los Angeles Public Library to build a geolocation smartphone app that displays historical images of Mexican Los Angeles.
  • Rashmita Mistry, professor of education, and Karen Quartz, director, UCLA Center for Community Schooling. Their course will have students delve into educational research methodological approaches using an equity and social justice lens.
  • Meredith Phillips, associate professor, public policy and sociology. Phillips’ course will have students use student and staff survey data to improve K-12 education.

For more information, read the UCLA Newsroom story HERE.

Taking a photo outside of the restaurant where we discussed the advent of graduate school and the best way to use our time during Undergrad. (From left to right: Gilberto Mendoza. Amado Castillo, Celina Avalos, Vianney Gomez, Julio Mendez Vargas, and Eduardo Solis)

By Amado Castillo and Eduardo Solis

With over 1,000 organizations at UCLA, it is difficult for undergraduates to carve out a place and establish a presence on campus. In 2017, UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences and the Luskin School of Public Affairs incubated a new avenue for undergraduates to engage with faculty on community-facing policy issues–the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI).

“From the first LPPI event I ever attended, a lunchtime conversation with my Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, I felt that it was an important organization as it connected policymakers with the academics who are studying the community conditions that they are trying to remedy. The idea of working at a rapid-pace think tank was daunting at first, but after my initial meeting with Sonja Diaz, I found that while there is an expectation for professionalism and a strong work ethic, there is a definite sense of community. I am very grateful to get to work with and learn from peers of mine who are definitive forces of change on our campus.” -Amado

“Throughout my first two years at UCLA, I was uncertain on what career I wanted to pursue. However, having taken a course on immigration policy made me aware to the fact that policy is what affects marginalized communities the most. During my interview to be a policy fellow, I was greeted by Sonja’s dog, Junot, and then later, Senate pro Tempore Kevin de León! This is emblematic of the space that LPPI convenes; something both accessible and powerful.” -Eduardo

As new policy fellows, we spent the first few weeks transitioning into our roles through the mentorship and guidance of current undergraduate and graduate policy fellows. We gained invaluable knowledge during the first half of spring quarter and became accustomed to working as a collective in a professional setting. During the third week, Sonja Diaz (LPPI’s Founding Executive Director) invited us to participate in a professional development opportunity with Bay Area professionals. We met with professionals of color from a handful of important sectors who imbued us with the knowledge of what it meant to lead with a social justice mindset. Diaz explained to us that the people we were going to meet with all worked in different sectors, all of which are woefully lagging on issues of diversity and inclusion. These sectors include the philanthropy, tech, and healthcare industry.

Policy Fellows gaining insight and taking notes while JC discusses how philanthropy can be utilized to uplift communities of color (From left to right: Julio Mendez Vargas, Eduardo Solis, Vianney Gomez, Amado Castillo and JC De Vera)

When we got to our first meeting, we met JC De Vera who works as a Program Grantmaker at the San Francisco Foundation in the Embarcadero building. He explained to us how fulfilling his job is, working within the philanthropy sector to mobilize and move resources to fuel advocacy. De Vera explained the importance of the intersections of advocacy and philanthropy, specifically how grant allocations have a significant impact on which organizations flourish and which die. He described to us how many people do not enjoy working in philanthropy because they anticipate having to go through a lot of bureaucratic red tape. However, De Vera is grateful that he gets to manage a rapid response power fund. He expressed, “I need to have an impact in my life and my career. If not, it’s not the job for me.” De Vera concluded our meeting by reiterating how for him, work has always been about lifting up people from the margins and giving them the financial assistance to do so.

At our next stop we connected with Hector Preciado at his Hired office, which looked and felt like the way tech companies are portrayed in television and film. He provided a different/contrary approach, inviting us to think about doing business school. He explained the importance of having executives in tech companies with a socio-political consciousness, as it is integral that Latinos become a part of the next wave of moguls if we want to ensure success within our community. Preciado also emphasized the importance of networking, describing how many doors had been opened for him and how many he has had the opportunity to open for others. Still, he cautioned us that networking was not a volume game, but rather a value game, and the worth is in its diversity.

Group photo taken after our meeting with Hector Preciado at Hired where he emphasized the importance of having socially-conscious Latinos in positions of power at influential corporations. (From left to right: Rosie Serrato Lomeli, Vianney Gomez, Amado Castillo, Julio Mendez Vargas, Sonja Diaz, and Hector Preciado)

Our final meeting took place over dinner near Oakland’s City Center where we met with Gilberto Soria Mendoza, a previous mentee of Diaz from her days at UCLA. He offered us suggestions about graduate school and described his journey from East Palo Alto high school to Washington, D.C. and back. Mendoza was incredibly personable and gave us guidance about how we could best use our experiences at UCLA to benefit our professional and academic futures. He described to us how he managed to complete his master’s degree nearly debt-free and encouraged us to apply to professional programs that focus on helping students of color prepare for graduate school.

In all, these meetings provided a sense of security and inspiration for what our futures could entail. The sectors that De Vera, Preciado, and Mendoza occupy weren’t made for them or us. As such, seeing people of color taking up positions in these sectors that have been historically dominated by white people sparked a sense of motivation within us to follow their footsteps. It gives us hope that we too will accomplish our career goals in taking up leadership positions in sectors that were not structured for people that look like us.