Sam Lutzker

Sam Lutzker

Graduate Student

Office: A52 Haines Hall


Curriculum Vitae

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Sam Lutzker is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at UCLA whose dissertation research examines the rise of vehicle residency and homelessness in the United States, including both residents’ perspectives and attempts by government and civil society groups to resolve “the problem,” as divergently understood. Methodologically, Sam employs a mixture of ethnographic participant observation, interviews, surveys and archival research. As a 2023-24 Haynes Lindley Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, Sam’s current research is focused on the Los Angeles region.

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. More recently, Sam co-authored a policy report on homelessness in recreational vehicles (i.e., RVs) in San José, CA with Graham Pruss and the Lived Experience Advisory Board of Silicon Valley. He was a co-founder of Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid and has written about state- and city-level homeless policies for the Los Angeles Times and Knock LA

At UCLA, Sam co-founded the Urban Sociology Working Group, for which he serves as a coordinator. 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 (sometimes interesting) rants on Twitter.














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

Fields of Study

Urban Sociology, Housing and Homelessness, Race and Ethnicity, Ethnographic and Mixed 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. (


Pruss, Graham and Sam Lutzker (in collaboration with Lived Experience Advisory Board of Silicon Valley). 2023 San José Recreational Vehicle Resident Survey Final Report. 2023. Submitted to the City of San José, CA.

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 (2024). “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
  • Mellon Foundation Scholar-in-Community Seed Grant, 2023
  • 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