Posts

LA Social Science interviewed Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Students and Founder of the Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA. Dr. Noguera discusses the center’s work on shining a spotlight on students experiencing homelessness in California. To learn more about this important issue, check out his center’s interactive map “We See You: Shining a Spotlight on Students Experiencing Homelessness in California” HERE.

 

Subscribe to LA Social Science and be the first to learn more insight and knowledge from UCLA social science experts in upcoming video/audio sessions and posts about current issues.

As an economist and director of the California Policy Lab, Till von Wachter is continually spearheading research projects and policy recommendations related to labor and employment as well as homelessness, education and crime.

As the U.S. economy further slows because of how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced so many businesses to close, UCLA Newsroom asked von Wachter, who is also the associate dean of research for the division of social sciences in the UCLA College, to help parse through current employment statistics, why the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package called the CARES Act — which was signed into law March 27 — is so critical and what its immediate and far-reaching effects might be for U.S. workers and the economy.

Continue reading the UCLA Newsroom Q&A HERE.

 

Subscribe to LA Social Science and be the first to learn more insight and knowledge from UCLA social science experts in upcoming video/audio sessions and posts dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

###

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

The California Latino Legislative Caucus and UCLA LPPI staff gather for a photo that commemorates the second year of their partnership which aims to increase access to pertinent data science on Latinos.

By Celina Avalos and Sonja Diaz

On May 20, 2019, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) hosted its second annual California Latino Legislative Policy Briefing in Sacramento. The policy briefing, co-hosted by the California Latino Legislative Caucus and UCLA Government & Community Relations, featured research presentations by three LPPI faculty experts: Dean Gary Segura, Dr. Melissa Chinchilla and Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante.

The policy briefing was attended by 50 guests who are policy advocates, legislative staff, and community leaders. The meeting convened at La Cosecha in Sacramento where the group learned more about LPPI’s latest research findings and discussed policy interventions that could improve the lives of California residents.

LPPI expert Dr. Melissa Chinchilla and LPPI Executive Director Sonja Diaz introduce LPPI’s recent report on Latino homelessness to a packed house in La Cosecha.

Attendees heard from the LPPI faculty experts on a wide-range of domestic policy issues including voting, housing, and health. The issues discussed in the briefing are critical policy challenges that the California legislature is addressing through new lawmaking. Each issue has unique impacts on California’s plurality. Fortunately, LPPI’s legislative briefing provided a space for policy leaders to understand more clearly which policy solutions are better suited to address the disparities faced by Latinos.

Kicking off the policy briefing was Dean Segura, who presented his research on public opinion trends leading to the 2020 presidential election. In 2018, LPPI’s research documented a 77% increase in Latino votes cast. This increase was configured by looking at and comparing the midterm elections from 2014 to 2018. Dean Segura’s presentation expanded on trends identifying leading public opinion sentiments that influenced voters of color (Asian Americans, Blacks, and Latinos) on issues involving immigration, #MeToo, access to affordable health care, and support for gun laws. Largely, the 2018 election illustrated the upward potential of Latino vote growth in and beyond California. The numbers showed voters of color embraced Democratic positions on guns, health care, and immigration at higher rates than their white peers.

Next, Dr. Chinchilla followed with her research on homelessness in Los Angeles County. In her policy presentation on Latino homelessness, Dr. Chinchilla cemented the lack of accurate data on Latinos facing housing insecurity and reiterated the fact that this demographic group remains undercounted.

LPPI Policy Fellow Celina Avalos met UFW leader and advocate Dolores Huerta during visits to the State Capital discussing LPPI’s work on housing and health.

Highlighting findings from her LPPI report, Stemming the Rise of Latino Homelessness, Dr. Chinchilla shared that homelessness is not a one size fits all narrative. She stated, “Many factors contribute to the undercount of Latinos facing housing insecurity, like immigration status, economic vulnerability, and cultural and language barriers.”

Dr. Vargas Bustamante concluded the policy briefing with his work on the California Latino physician crisis, which addresses a key issue facing the state—the shortage of healthcare workers. Dr. Vargas Bustamante’s policy presentation integrated findings from his report, Latino Physician Shortage in California: The Provider Perspective. He shared, “As California’s plurality, Latinos will represent 44.5% of California’s population by 2050. However, currently only 4.7% of physicians in California are Latino.”

According to Dr. Vargas Bustamante, the contributing factors to the Latino physician shortage include: lack of financial support and opportunity, academic disadvantages, navigation, underrepresentation, and citizenship.

LPPI’s briefing provided a novel opportunity for leading policy stakeholders to engage in timely policy issues centered on the needs of the state’s plurality. This briefing builds upon LPPI’s legislative portfolio of engaging elected and appointed officials on critical policy issues with data and facts, breeding new research-practice partnerships and accelerating the capacity for evidence-based policy.

 

We call homelessness a crisis in Los Angeles because we increasingly see the homeless in our midst every day. Yet, the invisible crisis has been with us for years, affecting even many UCLA students and staff. New Los Angeles City and County initiatives promise to meet the challenge of homelessness head on, but success will depend on the quality of evidence and information informing these investments. We believe UCLA can and should play a role in this effort, and that begins with learning more about the crisis and the response, and laying out a research agenda.

To galvanize transdisciplinary research and engage our campus with efforts across LA County, UCLA will host Professor Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania from May 21 – 24, 2018.  One of the nation’s most influential homelessness scholars, Professor Culhane pioneered the use of homeless management information systems (HMIS) and integrated data systems to study homelessness, and generated much of the evidence base that led to permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing policies. Professor Culhane will lead a week-long series of activities to help focus UCLA’s research and student communities on one the most pressing humanitarian crises facing our city.

The homelessness week is supported by a grant from the Office for Interdisciplinary and Cross Campus Affairs and co-sponsored by the Fielding School of Public Health, California Center for Population Research, and the California Policy Lab. Organized by Professors Randall Kuhn (Community Health Sciences) and Till von Wachter (Economics) the week includes four major events also described on the event website.

First, the week will kick off with a public lecture by Professor Culhane on “Meeting the Challenge of Homelessness” on May 21st. The lecture will be opened by Dean Jody Heymann from the Fielding School of Public Health. In this lecture, Culhane will review the national situation, including progress and continued hurdles. He will also describe unique challenges for cities like LA, where many homeless are unsheltered.

The second event is a roundtable discussion on the “Homelessness Research Agenda in LA and Beyond” on May 22nd.  For students, faculty, researchers, and others interested in having a direct impact on homelessness, this Roundtable will describe current City and County research priorities and unmet needs, and will highlight areas for UCLA contribution. The roundtable will be introduced by Dean Gary Segura from the Luskin School of Public Policy, and includes Molly Rysman, Deputy for Homelessness for the Third Supervisory District of the County, who will talk about the County’s research needs on homelessness; Janey Rountree, Executive Director of the California Policy Lab, who will talk about the new Countywide Homelessness Research Policy Initiative; Michael Lens, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy; and Till von Wachter, Professor of Economics, who will talk about opportunities policy-oriented research on homelessness at UCLA.

On Wednesday, May 23rd, Professor Culhane will lead a seminar on “The Promise of Integrated Data Systems for Social Science Research.” Culhane will review the legal, ethical, scientific and economic challenges of interagency data sharing, as well as systematic efforts including policy reform and inter-agency collaboration to overcome these challenges. He will also review important new integrated data systems initiatives in LA County and California.

Finally, the week will conclude with a mini-conference on “Transdisciplinary Homelessness Research: Measure H and Beyond.” Topics include pathways into and out of homelessness over the life-course. Articulating new service delivery models and data collection, including mobile phones as a platform for outreach. The conference will also feature a round table on how to sustain the interdisciplinary conversation through a campus-wide research network, regular working groups, and joint research projects.

Schedule of Events of Homelessness Week

Public Lecture: Meeting the Challenge of Homelessness

Monday, May 21, 2018
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
UCLA NPI Auditorium CHS C8-183

Register

Roundtable: Homeless Research Agenda in L.A. and Beyond

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
UCLA Public Affairs Building, Rm. 4240
Social Mixer to follow: UCLA Public Affairs Building, Luskin Commons Patio 3rd Floor

Register

Seminar: The Promise of Integrated Data Systems for Social Science Research

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
UCLA Public Affairs Building, Rm. 4240

Conference: Transdisciplinary Homelessness Research: Measure H and Beyond

Thursday, May 24, 2018
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
UCLA Public Affairs Building, Rm. 4240

 

For more information about Homelessness Week, click HERE

For more information about the California Policy Lab (CPL), click HERE

For more information about the California Center for Population Research (CCPR), click HERE