November - December 2020
Dear Friends:

As we near the end of 2020 and reflect on our first virtual Fall semester, we'd like to take a moment to thank you all for your continued engagement and partnership throughout this uncertain time. We have enjoyed seeing many of you at our online events, and hope the new year will provide relief and a new beginning for those who have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month, we are pleased to share with you the findings from our survey of 800 Los Angeles renter households, which Jovanna Rosen, Sean Angst, Soledad de Gregorio, and I conducted to better understand the impacts of the housing affordability crisis in our region. The project aimed to understand how rental affordability operates, uncovering how it impacts residents in Los Angeles specifically, and how its effects differ across populations.

As you read these updates and other items from this month's newsletter, I welcome your ideas for innovative approaches to tackling the complex issues of our time. I can be reached directly at if you would like to connect.

We wish you and yours a restful holiday season!

Gary Painter 
Director, USC Price Center for Social Innovation
Director, Homelessness Policy Research Institute
New Report:
How Do Renters Cope with Unaffordability?
By: Jovanna Rosen, Sean Angst, Soledad De Gregorio, and Gary Painter
The Los Angeles region faces a deep and worsening housing affordability crisis. A team of researchers from the USC Price Center for Social Innovation—led by Jovanna Rosen, Sean Angst, Soledad De Gregorio, and Gary Painter—conducted an in-person, door-to-door survey of 800 Los Angeles renter households to better understand the impacts of the housing affordability crisis in our region. The project aimed to understand how rental affordability operates, uncovering how it impacts residents in Los Angeles specifically, and how its effects differ across populations. Surveys were conducted during 2019, in Spanish and English, across the Los Angeles Promise Zone (LAPZ), in Central Los Angeles, and the South Los Angeles Promise Zone (SLATE-Z).

This report presents the first set of findings from the survey conducted in 2019, focused on understanding the coping strategies and adjustments that renters in Los Angeles make in response to high rents.

To read more about the report, visit the webpage here.
Social Impact Bonds 2.0? Findings from a Study of Four UK SIBs
By: Chris Fox, Hilary Olson, and Harry Armitage
This briefing paper draws together ideas about the next generation of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) that will be better placed to deliver more innovative approaches and act as positive disruptors in local public services. It is based on research in four SIBs managed by Bridges Outcomes Partnerships (Bridges) and ideas developed by researchers at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation at the University of Southern California.

Theory suggests that for SIBs to realize their full potential as incubators of innovation they need to incorporate mechanisms that allow people with lived experience to work with other stakeholders to co-create services that meet people’s needs and that draw on the strengths and assets of people who use services. This model of working provides strong foundations for challenging established ways of working in public services and changing local systems. SIBs that unlocked these possibilities could play a more significant role in public sector transformation.This study of four SIBs provides some evidence of how adopting a strengths-based approach can support and is intertwined with delivering social innovation. This study shows how the structure of the SIB can facilitate a move to strengths-based working. Key elements of the SIB structure included:

  • Involving a wide range of local partners in the design of the SIB, rather than appointing a service provider once the SIB contractual framework was complete;
  • Moving away from using standardized delivery models towards service delivery models that emphasized individualized or personalized services;
  • Adopting a rate card that allowed for multiple outcomes at the level of the individual so encouraging service providers to closely monitor individual progress and adjust individual service offers if one approach didn’t work; and
  • Flexibility around levels of investment in the SIB to allow for new service offers to be developed as new needs were identified.

Overall, the findings suggest that for SIBs 2.0 to facilitate greater co-creation and social innovation through strengths-based approaches, they need to allow for higher degrees of flexibility in funding and service personalization, establish strategies to support systemic change past the terms of the contract, and engage service users earlier in the design process.
New Data Story: The Power of Poetry in Florence

Investing in arts and culture is increasingly being recognized as a catalyzing force for community development. Strategies to boost the visibility of arts and culture can improve the livability of community and boost economies through job creation, attracting investment, generating tax revenues, and stimulating local economies. Further, programs based in arts and culture can help communities grapple with local equity issues, such as pressures of gentrification and displacement, and explore questions around the preservation and development of diverse identities.

This story was developed in partnership with Community Literature Initiative, an organization working to empower poets of color and those from underserved communities to have a voice through poetry and performance, and to share their narratives through published books.

Professor Christine Beckman, Associate Director of the Price Center, Price Family Chair in Social Innovation, and Professor of Public Policy spoke on several panels and podcasts during November and December:

17th Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference: On November 5, Dr. Beckman presented at a virtual conference for the University of Indiana. She discussed a paper, co-authored with Marian Gatzweiler and Corinna Frey-Heger, titled "Distributed experimentation in response to Grand Challenges: Pursuing alternative solutions to global displacement."

Questions & Unanswers About Social Innovation (QUASI) Seminar Series: On December 11, Dr. Beckman was a moderator for a seminar series conducted by the Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation. The session was titled, "Is the Firm a Meaningful Unit of Analysis for Social Innovation?" Speakers included Johanna Mair, Marc Ventresca, Irene Henriques, and Tyler Wry. Read more about the session here, watch the full session here, or view Dr. Beckman's slides here.

Podcast, "Overworked: The Price of Parenting in a Pandemic": Lastly, Dr. Beckman was featured in a USC Price student-produced podcast, The Price of Policy. In the episode, Holly Milburn-Smith and Dr. Christine Beckman discuss policies regarding the issues examined in Beckman's book, Dreams of the Overworked: Living, Working, and Parenting in the Digital Age. Listen to the podcast here.

Following the 2020 election, Roberto Suro, Associate Director of the Price Center, and Professor in both the Annenberg School and Price School, published an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times, titled "Latino political power is still growing — but not the way many people expected." Read the article here.
What’s Between 30 Million Americans and an Eviction Tsunami?
Written by: Francesca Mari
The New York Times
California featured Republican heavy hitters for decades. So why did it turn blue?
Hosted by: Steve Chiotakis
Los Angeles voters approve plan to boost social service funding
Written by: Jasmine Garsd
Why Colorado passing paid family leave matters even more during COVID
Written by: Katherine Wiles
Af-Am House hosts conversation on anti-racist futures
Written by: Talat Aman and Zaporah Price
Yale Daily News
California voters say no to more rent control
Written by: Charlotte Phillipp, Emmett Fuchs, Kenneth Kim, and Anita Holman
USC Annenberg Media
Plowshares in Ukiah preparing for Thanksgiving meal
Written by: Karen Rifkin
The Ukiah Daily Journal
Checking In On SoCal’s Housing & Rental Markets: Rents Fall In Los Angeles, Prices Rise In The Suburbs & More
Hosted by: Julia Murray
89.3 KPCC Radio: AirTalk
Santa Monica's Grant Elementary Named Top LA County School
Written by: Nicole Charky
Many L.A. renters cut back on basic needs to make rent USC Price Center study shows
Written by: Matthew Kredell
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy
Even before the pandemic, struggling L.A. renters cut back on food, clothes and transportation
Written by: Jenesse Miller
USC News
Our Commitment
In the wake of our nation’s call to dismantle systemic racism in our society, the Price Center is redoubling our commitment to embedding anti-racist values in all of the work that we do. Policy and systems change is necessary to address the deep-rooted structural inequities.
Our map will help our community better understand where cases of COVID-19 exist within the county, as well as the underlying vulnerabilities faced by Los Angeles residents. It is updated daily with information from the LA County Department of Public Health.
For more information on events, please email Events & Administrative Coordinator
Stacia Fewox at
The USC Price Center for Social Innovation develops ideas and illuminates strategies to improve the quality of life for people in low-income urban communities.

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