Luskin Summit Focuses on Seizing Opportunity to Address Homelessness

On April 1, a panel of experts gathered for a Luskin Summit webinar about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unhoused populations in Los Angeles. The event was moderated by Miguel A. Santana, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation and an emeritus member of the Luskin Board of Advisors. Santana is also chair of the Committee for Greater LA, which produced “No Going Back,” a report on how to build a more equitable Los Angeles. Almost 70,000 people are unhoused in the region, and up to 1.8 million residents lost jobs during the pandemic. Sarah Dusseault, former commission chair of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the pandemic “revealed the depth and breadth of the chronic and severe housing shortage, which has been amplified by failed safety nets, historic housing discrimination and mass incarceration.” She identified homelessness as “a man-made problem that we can address … by creating a system that is effective for everyone with equity at its center.” Jacqueline Waggoner, UCLA alumna and member of the UCLA Luskin Board of Advisors, called for “systems that are driven by data and informed by lived expertise.” Deeper collaboration and more resources, leadership and strategic planning are needed to create efficient systems to address homelessness, she said. Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., said addressing homelessness requires a shared vision across institutions. “Let’s seize this moment of maximum peril and maximum opportunity to make Los Angeles not a cautionary tale, but a true model,” Sonenshein said. — Zoe Day


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