Key takeaways

  • The mayor’s office stressed the need for more interim housing and policies that take into account both public health and safety and the well-being of the city’s approximately 75,000 homeless residents.

  • The conference also highlighted California’s housing crisis more broadly, featuring discussions about strategies needed to ensure that all state residents have access to adequate housing.  

  • UCLA’s new downtown building, which will house programs for UCLA Extension, offers new ways for faculty, students and staff to reach and continue to help Los Angeles’ homeless residents, Extension administrators said.

Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of Housing Jenna Hornstock used UCLA Extension’s 38th Annual Land Use Law and Planning Conference last week to lay out the administration’s views on addressing the city’s homelessness crisis.

In conversation with journalist and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs lecturer Jim Newton at the Feb. 2 event, Hornstock said that Mayor Karen Bass and her team see housing Los Angeles’ roughly 75,000 homeless residents as part of a broader effort to build more stable neighborhoods across the city.  

“We’re thinking about the whole spectrum of preventing homelessness and really creating community,” Hornstock said, emphasizing the need for additional focus on interim housing and policies for clearing homeless encampments that take both public health and safety and the well-being of homeless residents into account. “We don’t want to just bring people in off the street, but we want them to also have a path to permanent housing.”

Key to that effort, said Hornstock, is Executive Directive 1, an emergency measure signed by Bass shortly after taking office in 2022 designed to streamline the construction of new affordable housing developments. According to Hornstock, more than 150 projects comprising 10,000 new affordable housing units are already in the pipeline under the new policy, which she said removes unnecessary hurdles to construction and provides clarity for private developers.

“The market has responded and said, ‘Ok, we’re going to deliver affordable units with no public subsidies,’” Hornstock said. “That is a really powerful, important thing to see.”

Jenna Hornstock Los Angeles’ deputy mayor of housing (left), and UCLA’s Jim Newton sit in chairs on stage during their discussion about homelessness in Los Angeles
UCLA Extension
Jenna Hornstock, Los Angeles’ deputy mayor of housing (left), speaks with UCLA’s Jim Newton during the conference at downtown’s Omni Hotel.

Still, the size of the challenge facing the city is hard to overstate. According to the most recent California housing needs assessment, Los Angeles requires roughly an additional 455,000 units to be built by 2029, of which more than 180,000 must be for lower-income households.

How UCLA is helping to address homelessness and housing

Amid such an urgent need for more affordable housing, the UCLA community is getting involved. Professors and students from the Luskin School, for example, are studying the intersection of infrastructure investment, homelessness and urban planning in a search for innovative solutions, while teams from UCLA Health participate in street medicine programs for the city’s homeless residents.

The UCLA Extension conference also continued to promote a critical examination of the housing crisis facing California more broadly. The event included a panel discussion focused on emerging policies, legislative action, regulations and strategies designed to encourage acessible and affordable housing opportunities for residents across the state.   

“For urban planners, developers, lawyers and students the Land Use Law and Planning Conference offers an open platform to share ideas and think creatively about solutions to some of California’s most urgent policy priorities,” said Stephen Mucher, assistant dean for academic affairs at UCLA Extension.

Meanwhile, UCLA Extension Dean Eric Bullard said the division would continue to focus on finding new ways to assist Los Angeles residents facing housing insecurities, such as through collaborative partnerships to offer workforce training programs. He pointed to UCLA’s new downtown hub — which will house programs and administrative offices for Extension — as part of that effort.

“Breaking down barriers to education access is a central part of our mission,” said Bullard. “Having a more robust presence downtown will help us work more directly with the city, county and nonprofit organizations to address the region's economic and workforce needs.”