UCLA Luskin is back at Los Angeles City Hall. Following a hiatus in the annual event caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, students from the School’s three graduate programs — Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning — traveled downtown Feb. 24 to meet, interview and learn from local leaders from government, nonprofit agencies and the community. This year, Los Angeles City Council member Nithya Raman hosted the group, led by Luskin faculty advisor Michael Lens, on the topic “Homelessness Governance Reform — Service-Led Models, Building More Housing, Better County-City Collaboration.” “It’s important to see the economic constraints, the practical constraints, the political constraints that our elected officials and our policymakers operate under,” said Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy at UCLA Luskin. Also important, Lens said, is that “the big ideas and plans we talked about in class — about what ‘Professor Lens’ thinks that the city should do tomorrow — just isn’t so easy to do.” He tasked students to take information from the day, co-sponsored by UCLA Government and Community Relations, and ask how to apply it to the real world. For Raman, getting people off the streets involves talking to, and building relationships of trust with, people experiencing homelessness. “You have to go out there and understand who they are, what brought them to the streets, and to ensure that they believe you when you say, ‘I have something to offer you that will help address exactly what brought you here and help bring you indoors,’ ” said Raman, who will receive a written memorandum of findings and policy recommendations from the students.
View more photos from the day on Flickr