Professor Lens' research focuses on disparate outcomes resulting from inequities in housing markets, neighborhood stratification, and effects of housing subsidy programs. His research on housing subsidies and crime has challenged conventional wisdom regarding the housing voucher program, showing that those who receive those subsidies live in much safer neighborhoods than those living in housing constructed with supply-side subsidies. This research concludes that (1) public safety more than poverty rates is a principal factor in residential choice, (2) residential choice patterns vary systematically by race/ethnicity, and (3) subsidized housing does not increase neighborhood crime rates.
In recent research, Professor Lens is studying job accessibility among housing subsidy recipients, the effect of the housing bust on housing subsidy demand, the relationship between land use regulations and income segregation, and the effect of negative housing equity on mental health outcomes. Professor Lens' research recently won awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association and Housing Policy Debate.
Professor Lens was recently awarded - along with fellow UCLA Urban Planning Professor Paavo Monkkonen - a multiyear grant from the MacArthur Foundation to study the effect of the housing boom and bust on local government finances.
Professor Lens teaches courses on Quantitative Analysis, Community-Based Research, Housing Markets and Policy and Research Methods.