Monkkonen on Factors Behind Southland’s Rent Spikes

Paavo Monkkonen, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about rising rents around the state and country. Of the most expensive places for renters in the U.S., two Southern California cities are in the top five, according to a recent report. In Glendale, the average rent is $4,472 per month, a 36.32% increase from 2021. In Santa Monica, the average rent is $4,357, up more than 15%. Monkkonen said a city’s composition of renters and homeowners is a key factor. “Why is Santa Monica more expensive than Beverly Hills for renters? It may be the case that Beverly Hills has extremely expensive properties, but it’s owner-occupied and their rental properties are small and older,” he said. “If you have two cities where the demand for living in the city is similar, but city A has newer, larger rental units, then the rent’s going to be higher there because of that.”


Monkkonen, Lens on Flawed Approach to Fair Housing Compliance

A Policies for Action article co-authored by UCLA Luskin faculty members Paavo Monkkonen and Michael Lens assessed California’s bumpy implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, part of the U.S. Fair Housing Act. The rule, which sets out a framework for local governments and agencies to take decisive steps to promote fair housing, was codified into California law in 2018. Research by Lens and Monkkonen, along with co-author Moira O’Neill of UC Berkeley, found a lack of political will to comply with the law in some jurisdictions and a lack of clarity on the state’s expectations. The authors write, “Is it enough to do ‘better’? Given the deeply entrenched segregation in U.S. land-use plans, the reforms we’ve observed are not sufficient to achieve the ‘integrated and balanced living patterns’ envisioned by the Fair Housing Act.” They called on the state to create binding minimum expectations, including the use of metrics to track progress toward the goal of desegregated cities.


UCLA Luskin Scholars on Strengthening Democracy in the Americas

A June 8 conference on how to strengthen the collective defense of democracy in the Americas featured several scholars from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. The hybrid in-person discussion and webinar was a companion event to the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. The webinar focused on strengthening the Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted in 2001 by 34 countries of the Organization of American States. The goal is to generate and advance realistic policy recommendations to improve the charter’s application by OAS member states. President Gabriel Boric of Chile offered the keynote address . In addition to Dean Gary Segura, participating UCLA Luskin faculty included Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier, Professor of Urban Planning Susanna Hecht, Associate Professor of Urban Planning Veronica Herrera and Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning Paavo Monkkonen. The webinar is sponsored by the UCLA Burkle Center for International RelationsUCLA Latin American Institute and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and co-sponsored by the Latin American Program at the Wilson CenterThe Carter Center and the Community of Democracies


View photos from the event on Flickr:

Defense of Democracy


Luskin Housing Scholars Weigh In on California’s Crisis

A UCLA Newsroom article on how to tackle California’s affordable housing crisis cited several scholars from UCLA Luskin. Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen sees the housing crisis as a combination of “unaffordability, instability and inability to house” and has urged the state to “use many levers to push cities to allow more new housing.” Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky has cautioned against changes that fundamentally undermine the character of neighborhoods. He suggested increasing zoning capacity but allowing the city to decide where it should take place. “You don’t need to destroy communities,” Yaroslavsky said. Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Michael Lens highlighted the urgent need for more money for permanent supportive housing. The article was written by Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, who concluded that the competing arguments “reflect and shape California’s ongoing and urgent search for ways to adequately house every resident of the state.” 

Monkkonen on UCLA as a Model for Affordable Housing

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen spoke to Curbed about UCLA’s new guaranteed student housing plan. UCLA is the first University of California school to offer four years of housing for first-year students and two years of housing for transfer students. Meanwhile, the city of L.A. continues to struggle to produce affordable housing. According to Monkkonen, the biggest lesson to be learned from UCLA is the power of consolidating everything from planning to financing in one department and essentially becoming a public-housing developer. “UCLA develops its own land-use plan and then executes capital programs like the construction of dorms,” Monkkonen said. “Proactively planning for housing to be built rather than setting up rules and waiting to see if developers build or not is the kind of paradigm shift we need.” He also recommended expanding affordable housing closer to schools in order to benefit students, families, teachers and staff.

Luskin Summit Draws Inspiration from Europe to Combat Homelessness

A panel of experts from around the world joined the Feb. 23 Luskin Summit webinar “International Models of Social Housing: Lessons for California” to brainstorm strategies to address housing affordability and homelessness. California Assembly member Alex Lee welcomed attendees and kicked off the event by noting that nearly half of California residents qualify as rent-burdened as a result of the affordable housing crisis. Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen led the conversation about the successes of social housing and urban planning in Europe that could be adopted in California. Researcher Kath Scanlon from the London School of Economics noted that the goal of social housing is to solve housing affordability, but a successful social housing program will start by alleviating some of the pressure in the housing market. “For a variety of reasons, not everyone is going to be able to house themselves in the way we think they should be housed,” Scanlon said. “If California wants to step up, it will not be straightforward, but you have to start somewhere.” Helsinki’s housing program manager, Hanna Dhalmann, discussed Finland’s largest and most successful municipal housing company. “The first step is to give people real homes,” Dhalmann said. She recommended starting by investing in building affordable housing and turning housing shelters into apartments. Finally, former Deputy Mayor Jean-Louis Missika described how Paris was able to significantly expand housing production. Vivian Rescalvo, a member of the Board of Advisors of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, offered a closing statement for the event.

Stiffer Housing Requirement Will Benefit Angelenos, Monkkonen Says

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the state’s ruling that Los Angeles must add more than 250,000 homes to its zoning plan. State housing regulators rejected the city’s proposed long-term plan for growth and will require the city to rezone to accommodate the additional quarter-million new homes. City leaders must fix the housing plan by October in order to access billions of dollars in affordable housing grants, which will be necessary to support the growing number of low-income and homeless residents. Monkkonen agreed that the state’s ruling was justifiable given the city’s rejection of more assertive state-led rezoning proposals in favor of greater local control over where growth should go. “Allowing more housing more quickly will benefit Angelenos,” he said. “City officials shouldn’t drag their feet on taking the necessary actions to allow more housing, and should act at the pace that a crisis demands.”

Monkkonen Calls for Collaboration on Student Housing

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen was featured in a CalMatters article about the California State University system’s application to build affordable housing for nearly 3,400 students. The revised plan calls for $823 million in total funding for housing projects across 10 campuses, with $535 million coming from a new state housing grant and the rest from outside funds. The proposal comes as tens of thousands of college students struggle with unstable housing situations and even homelessness. Some campuses are currently building new living facilities to accommodate long waiting lists of students seeking campus housing, but student housing is often expensive. Looking ahead, Monkkonen said the state should better coordinate the student housing construction efforts of California’s public colleges and universities to share financing and other ideas. “This is a very obvious place for knowledge sharing,” he said. “We’re all on the same team.”

Monkkonen on a Model for Affordable Housing

The Los Angeles Times spoke to Paavo Monkkonen, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, about the tenancy-in-common homeownership model, in which residents own a share of an overall lot and have exclusive rights to live in their unit. Some Los Angeles developers are using this model to replace single-family homes with new townhomes, adding to the overall stock of housing. Critics are concerned that investors may displace tenants in cheaper rentals to convert them into tenancy-in-common units. UCLA’s Monkkonen said it’s important to consider that demolished houses are sometimes renovated into high-end homes, which do not ease the affordable housing crunch. Tenancy-in-common units are typically cheaper than many housing options and could provide a quicker way to expand affordability than waiting for more supply to trickle down, he said.


Global Mini-Summit: International Approaches to Housing Policy

LUSKIN SUMMIT 2022: Research in Action

This is the first of three sessions being organized by Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin as a Global Mini-Summit in cooperation with the UCLA International Institute to focus on policy issues from an international perspective.


International Approaches to Housing Policy: Lesson for California

Housing costs in California continue to soar without sign of abatement, so we turn abroad to look for policy inspiration. This online session led by professor Paavo Monkkonen of the Latin American Cities Initiative at UCLA Luskin will bring the knowledge and experience of high-level officials and policy experts from countries with notable and varied approaches to addressing housing challenges. Examples include representatives from a municipal housing agency or social housing association in Europe (both Helsinki’s and Paris’ are well-known); Singapore’s Housing Development Board, a public provider of homeownership opportunities; Japan’s National Spatial Planning and Regional Policy Bureau, which oversees zoning from a higher level of government than in the United States; and a housing secretary from Latin America (Mexico or Chile).

February-April: Additional online webinars on various topics, many with a global perspective.

End of April: Presentation by Zev Yaroslavsky of the Luskin School about the results of the seventh annual Quality of Life Index.


  • Details about participants in the various panel discussions are being released as sessions draw near and will also be posted on the Summit registration page.
  • All events will allow for remote access. Any in-person presentations that occur will be planned in full accordance with the latest UCLA and Los Angeles County COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
  • Visit the LUSKIN SUMMIT LANDING PAGE for more information on future Summit sessions.