Public Policy Lab: Homelessness in California

Homelessness in California gives students the opportunity to research the problem of homelessness and present their findings to state legislators.

Homelessness is one of the most serious social issues in California. Of the 211,000 unsheltered individuals in the United States in 2019, an estimated 108,000 of them were in California. An additional 43,000 residents of California reside in emergency shelters or temporary housing. In this course, students work in groups to write chapters of a report directed to a group of California state legislators on the problem of homelessness.

In the past three fiscal years, at least nine California state agencies administered and oversaw 41 different programs that provided funding to address and prevent homelessness in California, spending $13.3 billion. The 2021–22 budget adds an additional $12.4 billion on 29 programs, although the California State Auditor has criticized the existing spending as ineffective.

Participants will be tasked with assessing the efficacy of the existing and new spending and making recommendations for legislative action. Students will have the opportunity to interact with state officials as well as individuals from concerned organizations in preparing the reports. In addition to submitting their reports, students will have the chance to present their results to the group of state legislators collaborating on the project.

Project Examples


The Ormond Family Professor of Finance

Who Should Register

​​​​​​​Public Policy Lab (ALP 307) is available to the following students:

  • Students who have a strong interest in data-driven, evidence-based public policy and policy analysis
  • MBA and MSx students at Stanford GSB