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.

Monkkonen on California’s Student Housing Needs

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen spoke to CalMatters about the $500 million in state funding allotted by Gov. Gavin Newsom for affordable student housing. The housing crisis in California has also impacted students, and the funding is meant to help public colleges and universities build affordable housing or renovate existing property through a grant process. Monkkonen noted that the housing aid is a good use of state money. “Unlike grant money or financial aid, housing is a one-time expense that pays dividends because it can be used repeatedly,” he explained. However, experts have agreed that the $500 million package will not be enough to create all of the necessary housing units for public students across California. “A better system would be one in which there’s a long-term plan to grow the stock sufficiently that everyone that wants to live there, can,” Monkkonen said.

Monkkonen Debunks Myths of High-Density Housing

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen was featured in a Mel Magazine article about the stigmatization and gentrification of high-density public housing areas. For years, the Cabrini-Green low-income housing project in Chicago was associated with crime and violence. Today, the complex has been renovated into a modern-looking mix of both subsidized and market-rate dwellings, but the stigma around public housing persists. According to Monkkonen, “the stigma and belief that these large complexes are doomed to fail … is a distinctly American point of view.” He pointed out that in places like Hong Kong, France and Scandinavia, government-subsidized housing is more common and culturally accepted. “The common narrative around higher-density living and public housing, and why it became untenable, is a belief that residents didn’t take care of their home,” Monkkonen explained. “But the reason it fell apart was a totally different one. The products of the policies created poor conditions.”

Manville on Heavy Burden of Rent Debt as Pandemic Drags On

An Orange County Register story on frustrations surrounding California’s rental assistance program, which made $5.2 billion available to help low-income tenants and their landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic, cited research led by the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at UCLA Luskin. Surveys conducted in July 2020 and March 2021 found that, in Los Angeles County, renters’ debt rose sharply as the pandemic dragged on. Almost half of those surveyed in March turned to friends and family to help them pay rent, 58% dipped into their savings and 37% took out an emergency or payday loan, the study found. “That’s a lot of debt that people have accumulated, and they will be left out in the cold if we end up moving forward with a program that just pays your rent,” said Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville, co-author of the study. The research was also highlighted by Commercial Observer and Multi-Housing News.