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March 21, 2020

In an opinion piece that was published today on CNN.com, UCLA sociology professors, Dr. Cecilia Menjívar, Dr. Jacob G. Foster, and Dr. Jennie E. Brand, recommend using the more accurate term “physical distancing” rather than the misleading term “social distancing” during the COVID-19 pandemic. They write: “In fact, when we practice physical distancing, we need social connectivity and social responsibility more than ever.” To read this informative piece titled, “Don’t Call It ‘Social Distancing,'” click HERE.

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.

Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times featured three scholars from UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences and their outstanding work in Central American studies. The Los Angeles Times article highlights the conference that Professors Cecilia Menjívar (Sociology), Leisy Abrego (Chicana and Chicano and Central American Studies), and Rubén Hernández-León (Sociology) organized earlier this year regarding Central American migration.

L.A. Social Science would like to congratulate them on a successful conference that brought together attendees from UCLA, other California campuses, and the Los Angeles community to discuss and share their research in Central American studies. Read the complete article, HERE.

Dr. Akhil Gupta, UCLA Professor of Anthropology, has officially become president of the American Anthropological Association (as of November 2019). The American Anthropological Association is the largest association for professional anthropologists in the world. Dr. Gupta is a sociocultural anthropologist who works on questions of transnational capitalism, infrastructure, and corruption.

LA Social Science would like to congratulate Dr. Akhil Gupta on this well-deserved appointment.

The UCLA Department of Communication proudly announces rolling out their new PhD program where the first cohort will begin with the 2020-2021 academic year. The department will be sure to attract the best and the brightest since the undergraduate program is robust and students flock to that major. The expertise the faculty hold within the department and across the campus will offer the graduate students plenty of opportunities to shape their research in innovative ways. The department anticipates that the doctoral students will do well on the job market both in academia and the private sector. They have already seen this with the the assistance of UCLA alum Michael Allen who helped market the program using industry standards that culminated into this VIDEO.

This partnership started through the department’s longstanding relationship and sponsorship of the undergraduate UCLA Bruin Advertising and Marketing Team that competes nationally. Students like Felician Crisostomo, who are on team, also partook in the marketing of this new program. Crisostomo spoke about how this was one of the most exciting and rich experiences he has had at UCLA.

He was contacted by Dr. Kerri Johnson, Interim Vice Chair, this past spring quarter to aid with the project and connected him with Mr. Allen. They took the summer to put together a 5-minute video. Part of the project was for Crisostomo to really get to know the expertise within the department. He was most impressed with visiting professors’ labs and classes and witnessed how different methods are utilized to advance the field. Crisostomo noted that by working side by side with a person who has been an expert in the field with 20 years of experience allowed him to gain many transferable skills.

In particular, Crisostomo appreciated being part of the decision-making process by assisting with the images and messaging for the video. Crisostomo said, “It was exciting, because we got to work with Mike [Allen] an industry expert in marketing and pick his brain about the campaign along with Paul [Connor] for the video. I got first-hand experience with the manuscript, messaging and the actually filing of the video.”

Crisostomo believes that this experience has enabled him to be a more competitive member of the Bruin Marketing and Advertising campus organization and prepared him for work beyond the university.

This process is reflective of the types of expertise the department holds which bridges the expertise of the alumni and community partners to give its students a more comprehensive and suitable experience. Crisostomo has come to understand all the benefits and advantages of the PhD program, so much so, that he himself is seriously considering applying for the program. “Prior to this I never considered anything after undergraduate, but learning more about the program has opened me up to graduate school and [how it’s] applicable in my industry. It has broadened my views on opportunities that are out there.”

Dr. Kerri Johnson shares the excitement for the new program that arises from a department that produces cutting-edge research in three areas: cognitive, political, and computational. She shares that the faculty realized that given the work that the department does alongside their alumni and community partners that a premiere PhD program would inevitably come to fruition. The department is growing with the arrival of three new faculty members that will be available to the first incoming cohort. Dr. Johnson said that this program would provide world-class graduate training based on an interdisciplinary approach that includes multi-method training. Dr. Johnson was very excited to also work with Mr. Allen and Mr. Crisostomo in a collective manner.  She stated, “The team reported to me what we needed for the print material and the video in order to best advertise the new PhD program. Paul is a fantastic videographer that made a difference.”

We anticipate this PhD program will attract a diverse and competitive group of students and will yield cutting edge research that will impact academia and influence different industries. Interested applicants will need to submit their application by December 15.

Professor Rebecca Jean Emigh

Young people often want to change the world. But when facing a gamut of social problems and inequalities around them, it’s easy to wonder how any one person can make a difference and hard to know how to take the first steps. Undergraduate students at UCLA are attuned to the challenges around them, whether in their own school and city or across the world, but how can they help bring about positive change?

Students in UCLA Sociology Professor Rebecca Jean Emigh’s Winter 2019 Fiat Lux Seminar, “Do We Make a Difference? Social Change in Theory and Practice,” not only studied sociological approaches to achieving social change, but spent the quarter putting their knowledge into practice. Each student initiated a project of their choice designed to effect real change in the world around them even after the quarter concluded. Students addressed a variety of social issues, from the local to the global, motivated by insights gleaned from social theory and empirical research.

Noting that “we get caught in what we can’t do and not what we can do,” one student worked to design a course for the Undergraduate Student Initiated Education program using psychological principles to motivate students to engage in social activism directed towards the UCLA administration. Through this course, she hopes “to show students that they’re not alone in their problems if they just reach out and start talking until someone listens.” Another student collaborated with members of the Cambodian refugee community in an effort to empower them to connect their personal and community histories to social change. “At first, many were dismissive of their own perspectives,” she explained, “but after a few weeks they began to fully engage in our dialogue about social conditions and theory.”

Other student projects included a campaign to spread awareness of the negative effects of gentrification on the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles; initiatives to promote environmentally sustainable lifestyle changes through simple household and dietary interventions; and a positivity campaign to encourage students to show kindness to one another.

Students found that not only did their projects lead to positive change, their interactions as a class had a positive effect as well. “Listening to the presentations my classmates in this class [gave] greatly inspired me,” explained one student. Said another, “This class has allowed me to not only learn from other students in the class and participate in their social change projects… but continue to find meaningful ways in my everyday life to recognize the way my actions can impact and be valuable for those around me.”

The course will be offered again in Winter 2020, so look out for more Bruins in pursuit of a better future!

Pictured left to right: Dr. Vanessa Thompson, Dr. Gloria Wekker (keynote speaker), & Dr. SA Smythe

On October 10-11, 2019, a two-day symposium co-organized by Dr. SA Smythe (African American Studies Department, UCLA) and Dr. Vanessa Thompson (Goethe Universitate, Germany), was well attended by students, staff, and faculty from UCLA and other universities in the Southern California area, as well as those from the local Los Angeles community. It featured presentations and performances from around two dozen scholars, artists, and activists seeking to productively engage the project of Black Europe from a transnational and intersectional feminist perspective. This included working within and across the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, history, literary criticism/comparative literature, gender studies, and performance.

Presentations addressed many relevant topics key to understanding our contemporary political moment, such as the following: the issue of Black people who are rendered non-citizen within Fortress Europe; urban insurrections in the aftermath of police killings of Black youth in Paris, London, Stockholm, and other European countries; mobilizations against anti-black imagery and public demonstrations, such as those against Zwarte Piete (Black Pete) in the Netherlands or anti-blackface campaigns in German and Swiss theatres; struggles for decolonization in educational institutions and on street names, as well as for the decolonization of colonial museums; the notion of abolition and reparations on national and global scales; and the material memories of enslavement, colonialism, imperialism, and their aftermaths.

These topics and more did not only speak to the current conjunctures of Blackness in Europe, but also signal the importance of these formations and struggles as radical contributions to the global formations of Blackness writ large, and the Black radical tradition and Black feminist freedom visions and horizons in particular. Thus, “On the Matter of Blackness in Europe” provided timely perspectives on formations of Blackness and Black struggles within and across the Black Atlantic and the Black Mediterranean that challenged monolithic or dominant iterations of Black study and Black people, while still being attentive to practices of Black solidarity that transcend national containers and are expressed in and through temporal, spatial, performative, commemorative, cultural, and poetic interventions and imaginaries.

The symposium featured a keynote address from Distinguished Professor Emerita Gloria Wekker of Utrecht University (UCLA PhD alum, 1992). It was intentionally organized during European Black History Month, and during the 50th anniversary of the first Black and Ethnic Studies departments in the US. Drs. Smythe and Thompson wanted to have UCLA provide some of the context and the conditions to continue to take transnational feminist approaches to all Black Studies seriously, in a way that allows us to both recognize how African American Studies and Black European Studies share in similar struggles, legacies, and commitments to the struggle for liberation and the joyous matter of Black life from different material and historical conditions.

Please check out the following videos from this excellent two-day symposium at UCLA:

Borderscapes, Colonial Memories, and Policing the Crisis – 10.11.19

Keynote by Dr. Gloria Wekker (Professor Emerita, Utrecht) – 10.11.19

Blackness Conference Remarks by Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson (UCLA) – 10.11.19

Closing Reflections by the Chair of African American Studies at UCLA, Dr. Marcus Hunter – 10.11.19

Closing Remarks by Dr. SA Smythe (UCLA) and Dr. Vanessa Thompson (Goethe Universitat: Frankfurt)

 

Jasmin A. Young is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA in the Department of African American Studies. As a historian, her research focuses on African American history, 20th Century U.S. History, and gender studies. She specializes in African American women’s history, social movements, and the Black radical tradition.

Originally from Los Angeles, Jasmin Young began her academic career at California State University, Northridge. After graduation, she moved to NYC to attend Columbia University where she received her Masters in African American Studies and worked with the late Dr. Manning Marable. With a desire to ground herself in gender theories, Dr. Young moved to the UK to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), earning a second Masters of Science from the Gender Institute.

In 2018, Dr. Young graduated with a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her dissertation, “Black Women with Guns: A Historical Analysis of Armed Resistance 1892-1979,” offers a long history of women’s political engagement with Black militant activism from the Reconstruction to the Black Power era.

She is developing her book manuscript, Black Women with Guns: Armed Resistance in the Black Freedom Struggle, which is the first intellectual and social history of Black women’s use of armed resistance as a tool to achieve freedom in post–World War II America. While historical studies have assumed armed resistance was a male prerogative, she makes a significant intervention in the historiography by recovering a history of Black women who engaged in and advocated armed resistance from 1955-1979. Using archival research and gender theories, the book argues that Black women increasingly politicized armed resistance, both in theory and in practice, as the Black Freedom Movement shifted its objectives from integration to self-determination. Ultimately, Black Women with Guns broadens our understanding of the Black freedom struggle by expanding what we regard as political thought and action. It also reveals a more multifaceted struggle whose objectives and strategies were continually contested and evolving.

She presented her research to a packed house at UCLA’s Black Forum this past year where she fielded questions and led a great discussion on the intersection of state violence resistance and Radical Black Feminism. Dr. Young has presented her work at various national conferences including the Organization of American Historians. Her work has garnered general public attention and has been featured in the media. You can listen to her interview for the Black Agenda Report with Glen Ford HERE. She was also the historical consultant and writer for a documentary entitled, “Tracking Ida.”

Dr. Young is regarded as a rising junior scholar with cutting-edge research that connects the historical and contemporary understanding and contributions of Black Feminism. Many have attested to her accomplishments and many are eager to read her book when published. For example, fellow scholars at UCLA have said, “Jasmin’s intellectual maturity and complete dedication to research are among her most salient qualities. I was particularly impressed by how she theorized on Malcolm X’s intellectual development as influenced by the Detroit activist community, as well as when she investigated the contradictions of hyper-visibility and invisibility of Black women transnationally in hip-hop culture.”

She has been a great scholar to have in UCLA’s African American Studies Department as well as across campus. Dr. Young’s research reflects the caliber and innovation UCLA offers students, faculty, and the broader community.

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.