New partnership drives public policy and on-the-ground solutions to end homelessness

April 24, 2018

The new Homelessness Policy Research Institute is dedicated to timely, relevant and actionable research to end homelessness in Los Angeles County.

Homelessness Policy Research Institute

The institute aims to solve homelessness for 58,000 people in L.A. County. (Photo/iStock)

Los Angeles County’s growing population of individuals experiencing homelessness requires Los Angeles to leverage all of its resources to inform and implement workable solutions. To respond to this need, the USC Price Center for Social Innovation and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Home for Good Initiative have joined forces to create the Homelessness Policy Research Institute (HPRI), a group of local and national experts from a variety of research institutions dedicated to studying and solving homelessness.


Funded by a leadership gift from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and support from the Home for Good Funders Collaborative, HPRI brings together over 30 policymakers and local and national researchers to design and coordinate actionable research to end homelessness for 58,000 people in Los Angeles County.

“The urgent need to reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County requires a new model of collaboration between researchers and policymakers,” said Gary Painter, director of HPRI and the USC Price Center for Social Innovation. “The institute harnesses the collective talent of the region’s top scholars from a range of disciplines, including housing and real estate, economics, behavioral and primary healthcare, social services, and social network theory, to conduct timely, actionable research that directly informs policymaking at all levels of government.”

The launch of HPRI builds upon the United Way’s longstanding commitment to end homelessness in Los Angeles County.

“From economic concerns to mental health needs, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when addressing homelessness. We ask leaders from across all sectors to join together, and as a community we need to be quick, nimble and efficient to identify and implement effective solutions,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “The expertise represented in the Homelessness Policy Research Institute will be a great catalyst for the change that needs to happen countywide.”

Fighting homelessness with a four-pronged approach

HPRI works to end homelessness in Los Angeles County through four primary activities. It will:

  • Foster collaboration and coordination among researchers focused on homelessness in the Los Angeles region
  • Share current and upcoming research with policymakers and community partners to inform on-the-ground work
  • Conduct rapid-response policy research to inform policy and program design
  • Provide assistance in developing and coordinating RFPs for homelessness research relevant to Los Angeles County

Through these activities, HPRI brings invaluable new resources to help fight homelessness in the greater Los Angeles region.

“This collaboration between policymakers and the research community will ensure that policies and programs aimed at ending homelessness benefit from leveraging Los Angeles’ research resources,” said Bill Pitkin, director of domestic programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “In order to make effective policy and program decisions that positively impact our homeless neighbors, we must ensure that they are informed by research on what works in ending homelessness.”

HPRI is committed to collaboration across universities and has tapped the executive director of the California Policy Lab at UCLA, Janey Rountree, to serve as an associate director of HPRI.
“The California Policy Lab and the broader UCLA community recognize the enormity of the homelessness crisis facing Los Angeles and are committed to working with our colleagues at USC and other research institutions involved in HPRI to help find solutions,” said Rountree.

Applying research for the greater good

HPRI’s research helps inform funding allocations that directly affect individuals experiencing homelessness, including Measures H and HHH, which provided tax support for the development of new housing and the expansion of services for the homeless.

Additionally, HPRI informs the research activities of local and regional homelessness agencies. Most recently, HPRI assisted LAHSA in developing a request for proposals to evaluate a new family homelessness prevention pilot program, Solid Ground Van Nuys, which provides housing stabilization services to families who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The program and its evaluation are funded by the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Shelia Kuehl. LAHSA worked exclusively with HPRI to develop the research framework for the program and select an evaluation partner.

“While 58,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in L.A. County, there are another 700,000 severely rent-burdened households whose housing instability puts them at great risk of homelessness,” said LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn. “Our partnership with HPRI will allow us to better serve people facing housing crises by evaluating the effectiveness of the programs we have to serve them.”

HPRI operates in conjunction with USC’s Initiative to Eliminate Homelessness, which harnesses the talents and resources of USC to create and share tools to help the community in the fight against homelessness.

Related faculty

  • Gary Dean Painter

    Director, USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation
    Director, Homelessness Policy Research Institute