Grad Students

Sam Lutzker

Contact Information

Office  Haines A56

Sam Lutzker is a graduate student in the department of sociology at UCLA whose research uses ethnographic, interview and archival methods to examine state and civil society-driven responses to homelessness in California. He is also interested in how informal roles emerge, become established and shift within unhoused communities. His research follows participants through a variety of housing forms, from living in vehicles to hotel rooms like those contracted through state programs such as Project Roomkey. Sam is also part of the After Echo Park Lake research collective at the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy.

In a slightly different vein, his MA project analyzes oral history data from Facing Whiteness to describe how white Americans develop racial awareness and engage in antiracist brokering with white peers. More broadly, his research interests include urban sociology, race & ethnicity, ethnography, mixed methods and public policy.

Prior to graduate school, Sam was a project coordinator at INCITE in New York City, and a teacher in China. He loves hiking, biking and eating. You can find his rants (and sometimes helpful threads) on twitter.

Fields of Study

Urban Sociology; Race and Ethnicity; Ethnographic Methods; Public Policy



After Echo Park Lake Research Collective. 2022. Dis(Placement): The Fight for Housing and Community after Echo Park Lake. UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy report. (
This report has been covered by national media, including The Guardian:

Public Scholarship:

Roy, Ananya and Sam Lutzker. 2022. “How the brutal clearing of an L.A. homeless encampment can teach S.F. what not to do in the Tenderloin.” San Francisco Chronicle. (

Lutzker, Sam. 2021. “Op-Ed: Cancel parking fines for unhoused people who live in their cars.” Los Angeles
Times. (

Lutzker, Sam. 2021. “Is Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas ‘Champion of the Homeless Population?’
Depends who you ask.” Knock L.A. (

Lutzker, Sam. 2021. “‘Project No Key’: How Punitive Policies Hamper California’s Efforts to House the
Un-Housed.” Knock LA. (

Grants and Awards

National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) Honorable Mention, 2021

UCLA Graudate Summer Research Mentorship (GSRM) 2021

UCLA Graduate Research Mentorship (GRM) 2020-2021

UCLA Graudate Summer Research Mentorship (GSRM) 2020

UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy Graduate Student Working Group Funding
• Housing Justice Public Scholarship Series, 2021-2022
• Informal Tenancy Working Group, 2021-2022
• Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid, 2020-2021


MA Committee: Stefan Timmermans, Karida Brown


B.A., Columbia University, 2015

M.A., UCLA, 2021