Research Projects

Stop the Video

Research Projects

STATUS: In Progress YEAR: 2021 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

Understanding and Responding to Homelessness in State Transportation Settings

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-21-52
Funding source: Caltrans
Contract number: 65A0674
Funding amount: $25,000
Performance period: 11/1/2021 to 9/30/2022

Project description

More than 150,000 Californians experience homelessness every night. The limited capacity of shelters and social service agencies to meet the needs of this rapidly growing population has forced many to look for shelter in state transportation settings, including freeway rights-of-way, underpasses, rest areas, parking lots, and state highways. With affordable housing scarce and the crisis often overwhelming existing safety nets, Caltrans faces these pressing issues and must implement policy measures from realms beyond transportation to address them. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these problems.

This white paper will assess the state of homelessness in Caltrans environments, its mobility and equity implications, and best practices in responding to homelessness in transportation settings. The research team will synthesize existing analyses of homelessness in such environments and identify, describe, and compare relevant best practices. Following that, the research team will conduct interviews with staff at Caltrans and other departments of transportation, social service providers, law enforcement agencies, etc., focusing on what makes responses and partnerships most effective but also humane. This white paper will help policymakers balance potentially competing responsibilities, evaluate partnerships, and implement best practices in health, safety, operations, mobility, and other issues affecting the housed and unhoused public.


Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris
Professor of Urban Planning
Luskin School of Public Affairs
5387, Public AffairsLos Angeles, CA 90095
United States
[email protected]