One research center will focus on building new pathways to revive and sustain the American middle class. Another will be aimed at tackling housing and homelessness in Los Angeles.
January 28, 2021
RAND has received a $10 million gift from the Lowy family, which will create two new research centers at RAND. One center will focus on building new pathways to revive and sustain the American middle class and the other center will be aimed at tackling housing and homelessness in Los Angeles. The Lowy family’s gift is part of RAND’s recently launched $400 million Tomorrow Demands Today fundraising campaign.
“We are deeply grateful to the Lowy family and RAND Trustee Peter Lowy, a business leader and philanthropist who has long dedicated his time and expertise to addressing pressing community needs,” said Michael D. Rich, president and CEO of RAND. “This significant investment in RAND will provide the sustained support needed to shape innovative research and convert that research into action to address the declining middle class, confront the housing and homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, and tackle persistent inequities in our communities to help improve outcomes and opportunities for people throughout the United States.”
RAND researchers from a variety of disciplines will contribute their expertise to the two new centers. They will work together to analyze system-wide challenges, identify potential solutions, and use partnerships to test and implement interventions that will improve community health and well-being.
“The challenges of homelessness and the need to create well-paying, stable jobs for many Americans are persistent problems that are being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These are difficult times that require innovative thinking. RAND’s team has the expertise to produce practical solutions that can improve people’s lives,” said Peter Lowy, a principal of The Lowy Family Group. “I’m confident RAND’s work can help grow and sustain a strong middle class, which is vital to the success of the country.”
RAND’s Jeffrey Wenger and Melanie Zaber will lead research efforts at the center on building middle class pathways. The work will focus on ways to create and sustain middle-class employment in the face of rapidly changing labor market conditions. Researchers will examine the forces of technology and automation, outsourcing and trade, and COVID-19’s effects on the middle-class workforce. They will explore impediments to starting and growing a business, and work on removing barriers that limit business success. Researchers will reimagine and rework current education and skill development systems, with the goals of advancing equity and preparing workers for career pathways that offer more Americans resilience and upward mobility. Through pilot tests, and in collaboration with educators, businesses, and support organizations, RAND will identify what works, and for whom, to create an integrated system of supports that can help workers reach and remain in the middle class.
The core research agenda of the center on housing and homelessness will include analysis to better understand the needs of the existing homelessness population in Los Angeles and the challenges of addressing homelessness and affordable housing solutions in one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. Led by Sarah Hunter and Jason Ward, RAND researchers will work to align incentives among stakeholders, including people experiencing homelessness, community members, service providers, housing developers, and policymakers. They will explore broad questions concerning the supply and demand for housing and services, including examining the disproportionate impacts on communities of color and the varied needs of subpopulations such as veterans, as well as zoning and regulation reform options that can speed up housing development. Researchers will also investigate ways to address the effects of COVID-19 on the housing and homelessness landscape, including policies to reduce the flow of individuals into homelessness and exploring opportunities such as the adaptive reuse of underutilized commercial real estate for housing.
Each center will work to create a blueprint, outlining effective solutions for developing a resilient and upwardly mobile American workforce and combating homelessness in communities throughout the country.