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Roy on Global Poverty and Social Justice

In a Team Human podcast hosted by Douglas Rushkoff, Professor of Urban Planning and Social Welfare Ananya Roy discussed poverty and social justice from a global perspective. Roy explained how the “visible forms of poverty and inequality” in her childhood “shaped [her] interests in the study of cities and the manifestation of social inequality.” Roy discussed the relationships and discrepancies between poverty in the United States compared to developing countries in the global south, explaining that “poverty in many other parts of the world is not necessarily associated with political disenfranchisement in the ways in which it is in the United States.” Roy discussed spaces of mobilization and political power, noting that while “the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house, the master’s tools can certainly occupy the master house.” Roy concluded, “As Americans, we have an ethical and political responsibility to address the policies that then produce poverty around the world and in the United States as well.”


New Study Documents Lack of Economic Progress in South L.A. Over the Past 50 Years Researchers at UCLA Luskin’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge list inequities in wages, housing, education and transportation

In the half-century since the Kerner Commission’s report on urban unrest, South Los Angeles has experienced little economic progress, according to a new study by the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, part of UCLA Luskin.

In 1960, South L.A. workers made 80 cents on the dollar compared to the average Los Angeles County worker. In the last 50 years, that gap has widened. Today, the average full-time, full-year worker in South L.A. earns about 60 cents on every dollar earned by the average county resident.

“This report is a sobering snapshot of the inequalities that have persisted in South Los Angeles 50 years since the 1968 report,” said Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge.  Disparities in earnings are the main driver of income inequality. Earnings are critical in overall quality of life — low earnings can translate into less access to necessities, amenities, and opportunities.

Earnings in South L.A. have failed to catch up to county levels, according to the researchers. That widening pay gap is driven in part by a steady decline of male wages.

South Los Angeles is home to 722,000 persons, and epitomizes the plight of inner-city neighborhoods. It is the site where frustrations of a marginalized and neglected community boiled over in 1965 Watts riots and 1992 civil unrest. These reactions to the lack of progress should not have been unexpected given the realities documented by this CNK report.

In addition to earnings, the study also documents inequities in:

Housing

Homeownership, the principal mechanism for wealth accumulation for middle-class residents, is lower in South L.A. than the county and has declined over time. Today, fewer than one in three South L.A. residents own their home.

The high demand for housing has translated not only to higher cost but also higher home values. After adjusting for inflation, the average home is priced at nearly three times as much today as it was in 1960. This places financial strain on new buyers and puts ownership further out of reach for renters.

Transportation

Car ownership is critical in Los Angeles where, despite large investments in public transit, lacking a car can severely limit one’s access to job and educational opportunities. Availability of cars within households has improved over time; nonetheless, households in South LA are twice as likely to lack a car, according to the study. South LA residents remain three times as likely to rely on public transit for commuting.

Education

Educational attainment is critical in preparing children to be successful and productive adults. However, public schools have continued to be “separate and unequal.” Elementary school performance on standardized testing reveals persistent gaps between South LA and the most affluent neighborhoods in West L.A.

Early childhood preparation can be critical toward the goal of fostering successful students. Fifty years ago, recommendations concerning education specifically prioritized the expansion of preschool programs. In 1960, preschool enrollment was virtually non-existent in both South L.A. and the county.

In 1990, children in South L.A. were only half as likely as county children to be enrolled in a private preschool. This can be taken as an indicator of the wide gaps in the availability of resources for education to residents in South L.A. compared to the county. This gap has grown since then. In 2016, county children are four times as likely as South L.A. children to be enrolled in a private preschool.

View the full report.

Technical note

There are no definitive boundaries for South Los Angeles. Over time, the boundaries have shifted as the neighborhood has changed. This study is based on public use microdata areas (PUMAs), which are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. These are reasonable approximations of the curfew area for the 1965 Watts Riot, the post-1992 Civil Unrest Rebuild L.A. zone, and the Los Angeles Times Neighborhood Mapping Project’s South Los Angeles area.

All data, with the exception of school performance, come from PUMS samples. The 1960 data are extracted from IPUMS. Additional data come from tract-level statistics reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data on elementary school performance combine assessment scores from California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting with historical information of schools, reported in the 1965 McCone Report.

This project was supported by the following partners: the Haynes Foundation, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, the UCLA Lewis Center, the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Professor Manisha Shah, and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

Stoll Appointed Fellow of American Institutes for Research

Michael Stoll

Michael Stoll has been appointed a fellow of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a behavioral and social science research and evaluation organization based in Washington, D.C. Stoll, professor of public policy and urban planning at UCLA Luskin, will add his expertise in areas including poverty, inequality, migration, and crime and mass incarceration to the not-for-profit organization founded in 1946. AIR brings together a distinguished group of U.S. academics and experts in a wide range of fields. “I join AIR with an institute fellow class that includes Claude Steele (UC Berkeley), Marta Tienda (Princeton), Harry Holzer (Georgetown), Camille Charles (Penn) and David Hayes-Bautista (UCLA Medicine ),” he said. Stoll’s past work has included examination of the role in limiting employment opportunities played by racial residential segregation, job location patterns, job skill demands, employer discrimination, job competition, transportation, job information and criminal records. He also serves as a fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Institute for Research on Poverty at University of Wisconsin and the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, and is a past visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. The former chair of UCLA Public Policy said he expects his assignments as an AIR fellow will include serving as expert thought-partner on critical AIR projects, providing mentorship to AIR research staff, presenting seminars and developing internal conferences, as well as serving as quality assurance reviewer on high-profile reports. — Stan Paul

Turning Food Policy Into a Hands-On Learning Experience

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the UCLA Food Studies Graduate Certificate Program wrapped up its 10-week “Off the Table” series on urban agriculture, food security, and food policy with a moderated discussion on the sustainability of social enterprises within the food industry led by Evan Kleiman, chef and host of “Good Food” on KCRW. She was joined by panelists Anar Joshi of  Everytable, Kaitlin Mogentale of Pulp Pantry, Nick Panepinto of L.A. Kitchen and Karla T. Vasquez of SalviSoul during a gathering on Nov. 30 at the L.A. Kitchen facility in Lincoln Heights near downtown Los Angeles. Among other topics, the speakers talked about their efforts to promote healthy eating among young people. “One of our most successful programs was cooking lessons for kids,” Vasquez said during the panel discussion. “We told them, ‘You can like something, love something, or hate it. But you have to make it. There’s so much food in the world, and you get to try it all!’” Afterward, attendees had a chance to do some cooking themselves, making a vegetarian ricotta carpaccio from scratch under Kleiman’s direction. Download the recipe. View a video of the panel discussion. Browse a Flickr album of images from the event below.

“What's on the Plate? The Sustainability of Social Enterprises”

Volunteers Collect Food for the Needy at Farmer’s Market

On Dec. 2, 2017, UCLA Luskin Master of Urban and Regional Planning students Alexander Salgado and Ana Kobara joined with UCLA undergraduate mentees Audree Hsu and Sophie Go as part of the UCLA Luskin Food Mentorship program to participate in a volunteer effort with Food Forward. Food Forward is a nonprofit organization that works with multiple farmer’s markets in Los Angeles to collect donated food from vendors to pass along to organizations in need of fresh food. Throughout the day, the students walked a farmer’s market in Hollywood and delivered empty boxes to vendors that could fill them with produce. For the day, the student volunteers collected and organized more than 1,700 pounds of food, which was then delivered or picked up by various organizations in need. “The experience in itself was very rewarding,” Salgado said. “It was nice to see vendors so eager and willing to help others.” 

Student Volunteers Give Back, One Turkey Leg at a Time UCLA Luskin Food Mentorship program lets students explore interesting and relevant topics while coordinating a volunteer event at a local organization focused on food issues

As first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning students, Bianca Juarros and Esteban Doyle wanted to find meaningful ways to get involved with the UCLA campus community. The Luskin Food Mentorship program provided a way for them to do just that, while also exploring interesting and relevant topics.

The program is a part of a 10-week series on food called “Off the Table,” which is a combination of inspiring lectures, movie screenings and hands-on activities centered around food issues. The program matches graduate students in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs with undergraduate students pursuing the Food Studies minor. Pairs of students such as Juarros and Doyle are then tasked with coordinating a volunteer event at a local organization focused on food issues in Los Angeles. It offers a way to share knowledge, foster connections and make a meaningful impact on the greater community.

Here are the students’ impressions of the program and Juarros’ thoughts about its personal and educational benefits:

I had the opportunity to attend the “Off the Table” event called “Breaking Bread: Community Building with Veterans and Farming,” which delved into the often-unseen struggles faced by veterans after returning back home from a tour of duty — especially in terms of fostering social connections, finding newfound purpose and engaging in the healing process. The panel discussion opened my eyes to the vital importance that community gardens play in the reintegration process, especially among the UCLA community. I was moved by the stories shared by the panelists, many of whom were veterans themselves, and inspired by the efforts to re-create a veterans garden in Westwood. This was just one of many insightful “Off the Table” events.

In partnership with undergraduate students in the mentorship program, Esteban and I also coordinated a volunteer event at the L.A. Kitchen, which is an organization that employs formerly incarcerated individuals and emancipated foster youth to prepare food for community service organizations such as homeless shelters and senior centers. After promoting our event through our various networks, we were able to register a total of 15 people to volunteer. We recruited a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from various schools at UCLA.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, our volunteer group went to the L.A. Kitchen to volunteer with food preparation.

Because this was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we had the special opportunity to help carve turkeys. One of the L.A. Kitchen staff members, a recent graduate of the culinary education program, demonstrated to all the volunteers how to properly break down a turkey, removing as much meat as possible. After the quick tutorial, we all set out to work at various stations. We handled hundreds of turkeys!

Working side-by-side with other students was a wonderful time. People shared their favorite Thanksgiving memories while de-boning turkey legs. With everyone talking, sharing and laughing, it hardly felt like work at all. Time flies when you’re having fun!

We finished all the turkeys in record time. It helped, of course, that another large group — volunteers from a local electrical union — was volunteering that morning as well.

Going forward, we hope to maintain a close relationship with L.A. Kitchen. All the students who volunteered said they had a great time and would love to do it again. The L.A. Kitchen staff members mentioned wanting to strengthen ties with the UCLA community too.

We hope to continue planning more volunteer experiences with the L.A. Kitchen and bring in more UCLA students to share the wonderful experience.

On Dec. 2, 2017, UCLA Luskin Master of Urban and Regional Planning students Alexander Salgado and Ana Kobara joined with UCLA undergraduate mentees Audree Hsu and Sophie Go as part of the UCLA Luskin Food Mentorship program to participate in a volunteer effort with Food Forward.

Food Forward is a nonprofit organization that works with multiple farmer’s markets in Los Angeles to collect donated food from vendors to pass along to organizations in need of fresh food. Throughout the day, the students walked a farmer’s market in Hollywood and delivered empty boxes to vendors that could fill them with produce.

For the day, the student volunteers collected and organized more than 1,700 pounds of food, which was then delivered or picked up by various organizations in need.

“The experience in itself was very rewarding,” Salgado said. “It was nice to see vendors so eager and willing to help others.” 

 

 

Catalysts For Change

On Nov. 1, 2017, Global Public Affairs @UCLA Luskin hosted a lunchtime talk with Duncan Green, an educator, writer and head of research at Oxfam GB, about power and how power systems shape global policy and change. As detailed in his latest work, “How Change Happens,” Green shared his expertise and knowledge gained through years of working with different institutions of power ranging from governments to grassroots social and political activists.

A Flickr album of photos from the presentation can be accessed below.

Author Duncan Green

Festival, Panel Focus on Food Security Issues  

UCLA Luskin and the UCLA Food Studies Certificate program hosted a Food Week festival and panel discussion on food security issues on Oct. 26, 2017. “Harvesting Change: Fostering Partnerships for Food Security” was held on the 3rd Floor Commons of the Public Affairs Building and included food, games and information booths. The event segued into a panel discussion hosted by Urban Planning alumna Jessica McBride MURP ’14, founder of Open Silo and project manager for three6ixty. Fatinah Darwish, a program manager at the L.A. County Department of Public Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity, talked about county efforts to reduce food insecurity by increasing inter-agency coordination among government, healthcare and non-profit organizations. Mental health expert Rhea Holler, Ph.D., spoke about the shame and feelings of failure often experienced by people who are unable to afford food for themselves and their families. UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow Rick Nahmias, founder and executive director of Food Forward, talked about his organization’s history and its ongoing efforts to repurpose surplus food from fruit trees, farmers markets and other sources to provide hunger relief in Southern California. Attendees also heard from Frank Tamborello of Hunger Action LA, which is working to end hunger and promote healthy eating through a variety of advocacy, direct service and organizing efforts that benefit Los Angeles residents. Access a Flickr gallery from the event below.

'Harvesting Change' festival

Studying the Link Between Poverty and Suicides New research shows that poverty may have a greater effect on suicide rates than do unemployment or foreclosures

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Mark S. Kaplan

County-level suicide rates in the United States had a strong positive relationship with county poverty rates, while no relationships were found between county measures of unemployment or foreclosures when poverty rates were controlled, according to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group (ARG), a program of the Public Health Institute, in collaboration with the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Oregon Health and Science University, Prevention Research Center and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data over a six-year period from 2005 to 2011 that includes the major U.S. economic downturn from 2007 to 2009. The study also found that for men 45 to 64 years old, the proportion of alcohol-related suicides and poverty rates were positively associated. This working-age group was a key demographic in rising suicide rates during the recession.

This is the first study to try to unravel how different features of such a downturn affect suicide rates and alcohol-related suicides in particular. It is also the first study to suggest that unemployment’s role may not be as significant as poverty.

“Our finding suggests that the consequences of unemployment were more important than being unemployed during this period,” said ARG senior scientist and lead author William C. Kerr. “These results are consistent with what we see in countries that have strong unemployment support systems — where being out of a job doesn’t increase your risk for suicide.”

Poverty was also found to mediate unemployment’s effect on suicide rates, which suggests that policies should focus directly on reducing poverty as well as on supporting people who are unemployed.

“The analysis also draws attention to the importance of targeting suicide prevention efforts in economically disadvantaged communities and incorporating alcohol control policies, abuse prevention and treatment for alcohol misuse into such efforts,” said Mark S. Kaplan, co-author and professor in UCLA Luskin’s Department of Social Welfare.

“County-level poverty rates reflect what’s happening at an individual and family level as well as across the entire area,” Kerr added. “It speaks to a lack of resources for people who are struggling. It’s possible that some people were already at a breaking point when the recession hit — it’s difficult to know for sure. But the results do tell us that we need better mechanisms in place to help the people who need it the most.”

The study analyzed data from 16 states included in the National Violent Death Reporting System during the study period. This system links data from coroner/medical examiner records, police reports, death certificates and crime laboratories.

Support for this paper was provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health under award number R01 AA021791.

On the Meaning of Inequality and Poverty In a post written for the Social Science Research Council’s website, the director of UCLA Luskin School’s Institute on Inequality and Democracy calls for revived attention to the concept of poverty

“We are not all equal in the experience of inequality.”

Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy

By Stan Paul

Over time and with over-use, words can lose their meaning. “Inequality” and “poverty” — buzzwords of the media, philanthropy and academia — are words that Ananya Roy wants to repoliticize and resignify as critical concepts for social science research.

Roy, the director of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ new Institute on Inequality and Democracy, has a personal stake in defending their meaning. She has spent her academic career focused on these issues.

“I worry that the expansive use of inequality distracts attention from specific forms of impoverishment, exploitation, discrimination, and segregation,” Roy wrote in a recent post on the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) website. In the post, “In Defense of Poverty,” she explained that, as “banner themes,” the concepts become “twinned with other liberal terms such as inclusion and diversity.”

Roy, who is a professor of Urban Planning and Social Welfare as well as the Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, identified three areas that may fall under the label “critical poverty studies” — the active relations of impoverishment, the problem of poverty and rethinking north and south.

“Repoliticizing inequality is an ongoing project, one that increasingly demands vigilance and creativity on the part of social sciences,” she explained.

Read the full article at http://items.ssrc.org/in-defense-of-poverty/