Sam Lutzker

Sam Lutzker

Graduate Student

Office: A52 Haines Hall


Curriculum Vitae

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Sam Lutzker is a PhD candidate in the UCLA Department of Sociology who uses ethnographic methods to understand homelessness in the United States. His dissertation research examines the rise of vehicular homelessness, using Los Angeles as a case study of vehicular living, homeless advocacy, and poverty governance.

Sam is a collaborative researcher who engages community partners in projects that seek to have a public impact. As part of the After Echo Park Lake Research Collective (based at the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality & Democracy), he co-authored a widely cited policy report on the mass displacement of unhoused people from Echo Park Lake, as well as an article in Radical Housing Journal and an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. With Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid, he co-authored a chapter on their organizing practices as part of a forthcoming book from MIT Press. He has also written about state- and city-level homeless policies for the Los Angeles Times and Knock LA. Sam is a 2023-24 Haynes Lindley Doctoral Dissertation Fellow.

At UCLA, Sam co-founded the Urban Sociology Working Group, for which he serves as a coordinator. He has also served as a coordinator for Soc 237: Seminar for Comparative Social Analysis and as an editorial board member for the Berkeley Journal of Sociology. He enjoys mentoring undergraduates who are engaged in research on a variety of topics.

Prior to graduate school, Sam was a project coordinator at Columbia University’s INCITE, where he worked on “Facing Whiteness” and other projects. As a Princeton in Asia fellow, he worked as a university English teacher in Wuhan, China, and he later became a non-profit consultant in Beijing. He received his B.A. in Sociology with a minor in East Asian Studies from Columbia University.

Sam loves mountain biking and eating his way through LA with friends. You can find his rants on Twitter.














  • M.A., UCLA, 2021
  • B.A., Columbia University, 2015 (magna cum laude)

Fields of Study

Urban Sociology, Housing and Homelessness, Ethnographic Methods, Community-Engaged Research, Public Policy.


Peer-review Scholarship:

Roy, Ananya, Annie Powers, Ashley Bennet, Sam Lutzker and Hilary Malson (on behalf of After Echo Park Lake Research Collective). 2022. “Continuum of Carcerality: How Liberal Urbanism Governs Homelessness.” Radical Housing Journal. (


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 international 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. (

Book Chapters:

Kitonga, Ndindi and Sam Lutzker (on behalf of Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid). Forthcoming from MIT Press (2023). “What to make of ‘mutual aid?’ Lessons from organizing across unhoused camps.” Dispatches from the Threshold: Organizing for Housing Justice in a Pandemic.

Awards & Grants

  • Haynes Lindley Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 2023-2024
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) Honorable Mention, 2021
  • UCLA Excellence in Teaching Award, 2021-2022
  • 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


Dissertation Committee: Chris Herring (chair), Min Zhou, Kevan Harris, Ananya Roy

MA Committee: Stefan Timmermans, Karida Brown