Professor Michael Lens Receives Awards in Two Paper Competitions

By Adeney Zo, UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Urban Planning professor Michael Lens recently received awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA) and Housing Policy Debate for his research in housing policy.

Though Lens was aware that his Housing Policy Debate submission was part of a paper competition, the JAPA award came as a surprise. “I’ve been working on the paper that was eventually accepted for publication by JAPA – going back to my dissertation…I had such an elated feeling that my work had finally paid off,” says Lens. “And with the two awards, it was like I had won the lottery twice in the span of one week.”

Lens’ JAPA submission, selected as one of the journal’s two “Best Papers of 2013,” focuses on the relationship between crime and subsidized housing in New York City. Though the crime rate in the city has decreased over the years, Lens found that the cause could not be directly attributed to the city’s substantial investments in subsidized housing. While his findings suggest that subsidized housing neither increases nor decreases crime rates in neighborhoods, Lens still encourages the development of housing subsidies in less distressed neighborhoods, particularly in cities with tight rental markets such as New York and Los Angeles. However, Lens suggests that these cities need to find ways to expand housing options in higher-income, less-distressed neighborhoods, or they risk exacerbating concentrated poverty and further subjecting low-income households to unsafe living environments.

“It is likely that other factors affect crime more than housing investments and that these subsidies were not extensive enough in the typical neighborhood under examination,” explains Lens.

Lens’ winning paper for the Housing Policy Debate competition, titled “Employment Accessibility Among Housing Subsidy Recipients,” analyzes how the location of subsidized housing affects housing recipients’ employment opportunities. Utilizing a new measure for job accessibility that he developed which provides each housing census tract with a spatially-weighted job accessibility index, Lens found that those living in public housing are closer than any other group of housing subsidy recipients to employment opportunities. However, they are also highly concentrated among the low-skilled unemployed individuals that serve as their competition for most jobs.

“Although people think that most of the job growth is happening in the suburbs, there is actually more growth in central cities,” states Lens.

However, many low-income households are now offered housing vouchers instead of public housing, and the location of their preferred housing (in less distressed neighborhoods) tends to take these families farther from employment opportunities.

“From a policy standpoint, I suggest what matters is to ensure subsidized households are not in the worst of both worlds – inaccessible to jobs and located in places highly concentrated with low-skill workers.”

As for the future, Lens will continue researching employment accessibility and housing policy, but he explains that his work in housing subsidies and crime will be laid to rest for the time being.

“For the housing subsidy and crime paper, that was the fourth or fifth paper I’ve done on topic of crime and subsidized housing. The JAPA award is sort of closing the chapter for now,” says Lens. “With employment accessibility, I have a few projects to try and see if access leads to better employment outcomes.”

Lens’ JAPA and Housing Policy Debate papers on crime and housing in New York City can be found here.


Michael Stoll Presents New Proposal for Sentencing Reform

In a new discussion paper for the Brookings Institute/Hamilton Project by Public Policy professor Michael A. Stoll and Steven Raphael of the University of California Berkeley, suggest that there is room to reduce U.S. incarceration rates without significantly impacting crime.

The U.S. incarceration rate today exceeds its own historical norms as well as the rates of all other developed countries. At the same time, there is growing public awareness of the steep economic and social costs of crime and mass incarceration, including heavy fiscal costs on government budgets leading to higher taxes and effects on prisoners’ families and communities.

Stoll and Raphael have come up with a three-part proposal that they argue will reduce both incarceration and crime rates.

The three parts are:

  • Reforms to state truth-in-sentencing laws that lengthen sentences
  • Revisions to federal and state mandatory minimum sentencing policies that can be disproportionately harsh
  • Creation of fiscal incentives for local governments to consider the cost of incarceration

To read the full discussion paper titled “A New Approach to Reducing Incarceration While Maintaining Low Rates of Crime” and the policy brief, go here.

Stoll and Raphael are presenting their analysis at the Brookings/Hamilton Project forum titled “The Economic and Social Effects of Crime and Mass Incarceration in the United States” on Thursday, May 1 from 1:00-4:30 p.m. EST.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin will open the forum, followed by a roundtable to discuss the Stoll-Raphael paper. There will also be a discussion between Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) on the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014.

You can register for the live webcast here.

For updates on the event via Twitter, follow @hamiltonproj and join the conversation using #SmartSentencing.


New Study Looks at Recidivism Rates Among Juvenile Offenders

A first-of-its-kind study co-authored by Social Welfare Professor Laura Abrams has gained attention by the National Association of Social Workers for its findings on juvenile offenders and rates of recidivism.

The study was published in the March 2014 issue of Social Work Research, and was highlighted on the NASW blog. According to the paper, the findings from the study are contradictory to the majority of the existing literature.

The paper looks at three different types of confinement sentences given to first-time violent offenders — probation in the home, group-home placement and probation-camp placement — and examines whether the type of placement affects the chances of recidivism for those offenders.

Abrams and her co-authors, lead researcher Joseph P. Ryan of the University of Michigan and Hui Huang of Florida International University, used records from the Los Angeles County Department of Probation and the Department of Children and Family Services from 2003-2009 as data. They used a statistical technique called propensity score matching to control for static risks such as gender, race, and age.

The study found that compared with in-home probation, the likelihood of recidivism was 2.12 times greater for youths assigned to probation camps and 1.28 times greater for youths assigned to group homes.

The authors conclude: “This is an important finding because it helps the field identify effective and efficient strategies for interrupting criminal careers that do not disrupt important social bonds to family, peers, and school. Empirical evidence, rather than popular rhetoric, should serve as the driving force for public policy and clinical innovations in working with violent young people.”

You can read the full study here.

The study was also highlighted in “Journalist’s Resource” run by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.


Conference Explores Future of Digital Cities

As part of a newly expanded focus on the structure and administration of digitally enabled urban environments, UCLA Luskin held a two-day conference April 24-25 titled “Who Owns the Digital City?”. Scholars, entrepreneurs and activists came to campus to explore innovations and share knowledge on digitally empowered publics, tackling questions of ownership, service, participation, equity and justice in equal measure.

Read the formal conference summary

The conference kicked off with a keynote address Thursday, April 24, as detailed in this report by UCLA Luskin student writer Max Wynn.

Rethinking Digital Ownership: The contrarianism of Jaron Lanier

Technologist and futurist Jaron Lanier, author of Who Owns the Digital Future, opened the “Who Owns the Digital City?” conference in front of a crowd gathered on UCLA Luskin’s rooftop terrace.

Lanier is a tech pioneer whose wide-ranging accomplishments include coining the term “virtual reality,” starting a number of successful tech companies, and possessing one of world’s most extensive collections of actively played rare instruments.

After an adjective-laden introduction from Dean Frank Gilliam, Lanier approached the microphone.

“Oh god, aren’t I impressive,” he asked with an air of mock conceit.

The gathered crowd laughed, but it was an appropriate introduction for what followed. Lanier’s talk, like his book, presented a scathing critique of the current Internet landscape, and of the big businesses that dominate it. However, it was a critique given in an off-kilter manner that was befitting of the dreadlocked man delivering it.

His argument centered on the concentration of technologically bred wealth in the hands of a digital elite. According to Lanier, these elites have positioned themselves at the hubs of digital networks, and have succeeded in monetizing the shared data of their users. The users, or “peasant class,” are not compensated for their role in this wealth creation process. The result has been a tech sector that is actively contributing to the continued destruction of the middle class.

As Lanier’s assault wore on, many of the titans of literature, business, philosophy and, of course, technology were both praised and criticized, often in the same breath.

Lanier’s eclectic interests were on constant display, and within the first ten minutes he discussed the works of Aristotle, Marx and Shelley. In doing so Lanier strayed from Silicon Valley’s typical catalog of cultural references, though Ayn Rand was mentioned briefly.

While Lanier referenced an extensive cast of literary figures, his talk veered well beyond the bounds of letters. At one point he linked “Maxwell’s demon,” a famous thought experiment in the field of thermodynamics, to macroeconomic theory and the history of American business.

The talk ended in an appropriately unexpected fashion. After readjusting the microphone, Lanier was joined onstage by the musician Paul Simon’s son, Harper. As the sun dropped below the Westwood skyline, the duo performed a series of musical compositions. Lanier played a number of exotically named instruments from his personal collection while Simon strummed on a guitar and swayed from side to side.

Afterwards, Lanier signed books and took questions from a crowd still slightly awed by the evening’s spectacle.


The Promises and Pitfalls of Digital Governance

Listen to Jaron Lanier here


“My First Boston Marathon”: Social Welfare Student Linnea Koopmans Shares Her Experience

by Linnea Koopmans

Last Monday, I ran the Boston Marathon.  I had been looking forward to the race since I achieved a qualifying time at my last marathon in November of 2012. Having been a part of the running world for quite some time, I saw this marathon as both a landmark for my personal running accomplishments to date and also a beginning point for what I hope to be a more competitive stage of my distance running.

However, after the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, I knew that as a participant in the marathon this year, I would be a part of something much larger than just a great race. As the date of the marathon approached, I was curious to see what the tone of the city would be. On April 15 – the year anniversary of the bombing – I listened to news coverage of the memorial and the stories of recovery from the past year. I was reminded of the process of healing that people affected have undergone since last April, both physically and psychologically. Despite all the wounds, the consistent message from past participants, Boston residents, and city officials focused on the importance of continuing the historical civic tradition of the Boston Marathon.

Throughout my experience of the marathon – from my arrival in the city to my post-run celebrations – it was evident that this year’s event was especially meaningful for everyone connected to annual race  The city seemed eager to both commemorate those affected by the bombing last year and to continue with some of its most endearing traditions that have come to define the race. The Wellesley College girls were still cheering on the runners with their “kiss me” signs, residents along the route were back out in their yards grilling and offering runners cold beer, and crowds of people still gathered at Heartbreak Hill to remind the runners that our legs could survive the final climb. And though the final few miles of the marathon were painful, I remember being in awe of the thousands of people lining the fence, cheering us all on to finish “Boston Strong.”

There is no doubt that April 15 will continue to be an important day of remembrance for both the city of Boston and the global running community. But I believe this year’s Boston Marathon, which included a participant field about 20% larger than past years and hundreds of thousands of spectators, was a reminder of the how beloved this historical race is and its power that enables everyone involved to feel they are a part of something much larger than themselves. As a runner, I will look forward to returning to Boston, and to the unique experience of the city’s marathon.



Melinda Morgan Named Social Welfare Alumna of 2014 The two-time UCLA Luskin Alumna Melinda Morgan will accept her 2014 Social Welfare Alumna of the Year award on April 26th

Two-time UCLA Luskin Alumna Melinda Morgan (MSW ’89,  PhD ’98) has been named the 2014 Dr. Joseph A. Nunn Alumna of the Year by the Department of Social Welfare for her commitment to helping military families.

For over six  years, Morgan has served as site director of the Camp Pendleton FOCUS Program. FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resilience training program for military families, children, and couples implemented in 2008, in collaboration with the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The program, now part of the UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center, is in operation in over 20 sites around the world and has provided services to over 500,000 service members and their families.

Morgan teaches as a field instructor for the University of Southern California San Diego Academic Center for Military Social Work and supervises interns placed at FOCUS. In addition, she works as a consultant for the National Military Family Association as an embedded team member in Operation Purple Camps for military families throughout the country.

Prior to receiving her MSW and PhD from UCLA, Morgan was a probation officer working primarily with Latino youth gangs and worked as a psychiatric social worker During her program at UCLA, Morgan maintained a private practice in psychotherapy, and was a co-investigator and assistant professor for UCLA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology researching neurophysiologic correlates of women’s mood disorders. For the majority of her academic career, Morgan also raised four children as a single parent.

While one of Morgan’s favorite things to do is go on kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, she gladly will forgo a beach trip for the annual MSW Alumni Reception on Saturday, April 26 where she will accept her 2014 Social Welfare Alumna of the Year award.



Joan Ling Named Urban Planning Alumna of the Year

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Joan Ling MA UP ’82 has been named 2014 Alumna of the Year by the department of Urban Planning. Ling currently works as a real estate advisor and policy analyst in urban planning.

As a child, Ling developed a passion for carpentry and building that later inspired her to pursue a career in urban planning.

Ling recalls: “My father was a doctor by vocation and carpenter/cabinet maker by avocation. When I was 12, I designed and built a house for my dog from scratch . . . I love working with my hands and building things.”

“My intellectual interest in the nexus between social theory and practice led me to the UCLA Urban Planning Department,” Ling continues. “And during the two years I attended school here, my love of cities blossomed, along with a growing awareness of work opportunities that could fulfill my emotional, spiritual and creative needs. “

Following graduation, Ling used her hands-on experience to improve public policy, legislation and government regulations. Among the many issues she has affected, highlights include reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to streamline affordable and urban in-fill housing production, negotiating the California Mello Act implementation in Los Angeles, running a successful voter initiative to authorize affordable housing development under Article 34 of the California Constitution, passing local ordinances giving land use incentives and protections for affordable housing development projects, and advocating for more and better targeted financial resources in California’s tax credit and bond-funded housing programs. She is currently working on promoting a range of housing choices in Los Angeles transit station areas, land use incentives for affordable housing, and a dedicated funding source in California.

Ling has taken about 60 development projects totalling 1,400 units from acquisition through entitlement, financing, construction, marketing and building operations. Her projects include the first multi-family structure in the country awarded the gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as well as two buildings that received the National American Institute of Architect’s Design Honor Awards.

Ling served as the Executive Director of Community Corporation of Santa Monica for 20 years. She has also worked for the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission; Kotin, Regan, and Mouchly; and The Planning Group. She was the Treasurer of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles for over six years until its dissolution in February 2012. She is a director on the Housing California board and the chair of its Land Use and Finance Committee. In addition, she serves on the MoveLA Advisory Board.

Ling holds a certificate from Harvard Kennedy School of Government after completing an 18-month program in Achieving Excellence in Community Development. Fannie Mae Foundation honored her as a National James A. Johnson Fellow. Ling also currently teaches real estate, housing and planning courses in the Urban Planning department.

“Returning to teach in the department after a 30-year professional career is one of the best choices I made in my life,” says Ling. “The students’ energy, enthusiasm and commitment make me feel alive and hopeful for the future.”

In Memoriam: Marjorie Crump MSW ’46

By Bill Kisliuk

Marjorie Eloise Lund Crump, who did significant work in public service and entrepreneurship and who, together with her husband Ralph, was a major supporter of UCLA, died of natural causes on April 1 at her home in Trumbull, Conn. She was 89.

Over the years the Crumps, both UCLA alumni, created and funded the UCLA Crump Institute of Medical Engineering, now called the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging; the William D. Van Vorst Chair in Chemical Engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Marjorie L. Crump Chair in Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin; and the Crump Chair in Medical Engineering at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

“Marjorie was a great champion of UCLA, of technological advances to improve our world and of public service,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Her passion for education and for the well-being of people from all walks of life made a deep impression on all who knew her.”

Born in Long Beach, Calif., Marjorie Lund was the high school sweetheart of her future husband. They married in Westwood in 1948 after she earned her B.A. degree in 1946. At the time, Ralph Crump was attending UCLA Engineering after his service in World War II. He graduated in 1950.

Marjorie Crump worked as a social welfare case manager for Los Angeles County. The family moved to Connecticut in 1962. In both California and Connecticut, she was deeply involved with charitable causes and community groups. She co-wrote history books with her husband, served as a substitute teacher and exhibited a profound appreciation for the arts and the outdoors.

She also was deeply engaged in her husband’s work.

A biomedical pioneer, Ralph Crump founded Frigitronics Inc., after co-developing a cryosurgical instrument that safely froze and extracted cataracts during eye procedures. He later developed a soft contact lens and devices for other medical procedures. Many of the procedures using these instruments were first performed at the UCLA School of Medicine.

The Crumps went on to establish businesses in reverse osmosis water treatment, bar code printers, rapid prototyping, and force and load sensors. Many of these companies were later acquired by large manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson and General Electric.

Marjorie Crump is survived by her husband of 66 years, her three children and their families. A private memorial service was held on April 4.

Rep. Karen Bass to Deliver Commencement Address

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who represents the 37th Congressional District, will be the keynote speaker at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ commencement ceremony on Friday, June 13.

Rep. Bass is a long-time public servant and community leader, and a member of the inaugural class of the UCLA Luskin Senior Fellows Program. She serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee where she is working to craft sound criminal justice reforms. She was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus.

Throughout her career, Bass has maintained a focus on the nation’s foster care system. In her first term, she created the bipartisan Congressional Foster Youth Caucus along with co-chair U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.). Now in her second term, Bass plans to examine national standards of care in the child welfare system.

As a child, Bass became interested in community activism while watching the Civil Rights Movement unfold. It was then that she made a lifetime commitment to effecting social change in her community and abroad. Prior to serving in Congress, Bass worked for nearly a decade as a physical assistant and served as a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Bass also founded and ran the Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization in South Los Angeles that empowers residents to become involved in making a difference. It was in this position as executive director of the Community Coalition that she became a UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow.

Bass later made history when the California Assembly elected her to be its 67th Speaker, making her the first African American woman in U.S. history to serve in this state legislative role. While in this role, she helped the State of California to recover from the 2008 economic crisis.

Urban Planning Student Accepted into First-Ever Levine Distinguished Fellowship

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Urban Planning student Jadie Wasilco’s passion for affordable housing issues has earned her a Howard and Irene Levine Distinguished Fellowship, a new program offered through the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

Prior to studying at UCLA Luskin, Wasilco began her work in affordable housing at a nonprofit legal firm in San Francisco called “Home Base,” which offered technical legal assistance to local counties working to combat homelessness. Her interest in urban planning and community development  as well as the performing arts led her to move to New York, where she got a position at the renowned Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as Coordinator of Government & Community Relations. “They were undergoing a large-scale redevelopment at the time, so there was tremendous involvement with community groups, art organizations and government agencies. I acted as the liaison between Lincoln Center and these particular stakeholders,” Wasilco relates. “That position kept me interested in redevelopment and working with the government, even though it wasn’t directly related to housing issues.”

After working in New York for a few years, Wasilco made the decision to enter graduate school to further her studies in the field of community development and housing. In her first year of graduate school, Wasilco also interned for the LA County Housing Department, which she describes as an experience that “really helped refuel my interest in affordable housing during my first year.”

Wasilco, now a second-year student, was recently selected as one of three students to become part of the first-ever Levine Distinguished Fellowship. The program is structured to support students interested in real estate and housing issues through an annual stipend, mentorship component with a UCLA Ziman Center board member, access to real estate events and professional networking opportunities.

Howard Levine, member of the founding board for the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate, and his wife, Irene, also sponsor an MBA real estate and social entrepreneurship course (meant to be taken in conjunction with the fellowship), along with a speaker series as part of their Howard and Irene Levine Program in Housing and Social Responsibility. Wasilco explains, “The Levines wanted this fellowship  to be part of a broader initiative focused on the intersection of social responsibility and real estate.”

The fellowship is still in its beginning stages, but Wasilco looks forward to witnessing the fruits of the program in the form of a final project each fellow will present at the end of the year. “The program requires a deliverable at the end of the year of the fellowship, so it will be interesting to see what projects will come out of it,” she explains. “Since this is a collaborative between students from the law, public affairs and business schools, the program will mean different things for people from different backgrounds. The goal is to see how you take advantage of this fellowship and run with it.”

Though her graduation is also fast approaching, Wasilco plans to explore a variety of career options as she completes her year in the fellowship. “I’m definitely interested in going into housing – anything from nonprofit housing development to real estate consulting,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in urban planning, as it connects a variety of issues cities face and puts them together on common ground. These are the kind of issues that I’m interested in pursuing in the future.” as of 2017

learn more about Jadie Wasilco