The USC Price Center for Social Innovation and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Home for Good Initiative announced Monday the creation of a research institute dedicated to studying and solving homelessness.
The Homelessness Policy Research Institute will bring together more than 30 local and national experts from a variety of other institutions, and will be funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation with support from Home for Good Funders Collaborative.
"The urgent need to reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County requires a new model of collaboration between researchers and policymakers," said Gary Painter, director of HPRI and the USC Price Center for Social Innovation. "The institute harnesses the collective talent of the region's top scholars from a range of disciplines, including housing and real estate, economics, behavioral and primary healthcare, social services and social network theory, to conduct timely, actionable research that directly informs policymaking at all levels of government."
Homelessness increased by 23 percent in Los Angeles County in 2017 to reach more than 58,000 people, according to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
"From economic concerns to mental health needs, there is no one-size- fits-all solution when addressing homelessness. We ask leaders from across all sectors to join together, and as a community we need to be quick, nimble and efficient to identify and implement effective solutions," said Elise Buik, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. "The expertise represented in the Homelessness Policy Research Institute will be a great catalyst for the change that needs to happen countywide."
According to USC, the institute will work to end homelessness by fostering collaboration among experts in the region, sharing current and upcoming research with policymakers and community partners, conducting rapid- response policy research and helping to develop and coordinate bids for homelessness research relevant to Los Angeles County.
"This collaboration between policymakers and the research community will ensure that policies and programs aimed at ending homelessness benefit from leveraging Los Angeles' research resources," said Bill Pitkin, director of domestic programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. "In order to make effective policy and program decisions that positively impact our homeless neighbors, we must ensure that they are informed by research on what works in ending homelessness."
The institute has already been operating for a few weeks and recently assisted the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority in developing a request for proposals to evaluate a new family homelessness prevention pilot program, Solid Ground Van Nuys, which provides housing stabilization services to families who are at risk of becoming homeless.
"While 58,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in L.A. County, there are another 700,000 severely rent-burdened households whose housing instability puts them at great risk of homelessness," said LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn. "Our partnership with HPRI will allow us to better serve people facing housing crises by evaluating the effectiveness of the programs we have to serve them."