On October 28th, 2016, the UCI Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation and the Towards a Sustainable 21st Century Series hosted a Conference on Poverty and Inequality in California. The ultimate goal for the event was to identify and discuss imperatives for action against poverty and inequality, two major issues affecting our state of California.

Joining UCI Blum Director Richard Matthew, were speakers such as Dr. Caroline Danielson of PPIC and UCI Law Professor Robert Solomon. In addition, the conference featured three panel discussions including various university professors, local non-profit leaders, and UC system faculty members. About 200 people attended and participated in the day-long event.

Nancy Guerra, the Dean of the UCI School of Social Ecology, initiated the conference with a welcome to the attendees. Following the welcome address, Richard Matthew, the Associate Dean of the School of Social Ecology and the UCI Blum Center Director, gave the opening remarks for the event.

Watch the full conference video playlist HERE.

1st Panel: “Understanding Poverty and Inequality in California”


Charis Kubrin moderated the panel discussion seeking to understand the implications and the extent of poverty and inequality in California.

  • Charis Kubrin, Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, UC Irvine

  • Jody Agius Vallejo, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

  • David Brady, Professor of Public Policy & Director, Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty, UC Riverside

  • Andrew Penner, Associate Professor of Sociology, UC Irvine

  • Maria Rendon, Assistant Professor of Planning, Policy & Design and Sociology, UC Irvine

2nd Panel: “Approaches to Reducing Poverty & Inequality”

Victoria Basolo moderated the roundtable discussion covering various ways of combatting poverty and inequality.

  • Victoria Basolo, Associate Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education & Professor, Policy, Planning & Design, UC Irvine

  • Caroline Danielson, Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California

  • Gregory Bradbard, President and CEO, Inland Empire United Way

  • Karla Lopez Del Rio, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, NeighborWorks Orange County

Keynote Address: Caroline Danielson

The keynote speaker for the conference was Dr. Caroline Danielson, Senior Fellow of the Public Policy Institution of California. Danielson has a PhD in political science and a master’s degree in policy analysis, and she has dedicated her research to the “social safety net,” or the various social welfare programs which exist to serve the low-income public and minimize poverty.


In her address, Danielson discussed the May 2016 PPIC publication, “Income Inequality and the Safety Net in California,” which she co-authored with Sarah Bohn and Researcher Monica Bandy. The article presents and answers many important questions such as, “What drives inequality- and spurs public concern about it?” and “Where do family incomes fall after safety net resources are accounted for?” (Danielson et. al., 2016, pp. 8-17)*. Danielson shares multiple pieces of graphic evidence throughout her presentation, comprehensively illustrating the recent increase in Californian income inequality and the effects of the social safety net provisions on the overall income gap. She also discusses the complicated relationship between the two major problems of poverty and inequality, beginning at 24:24 in the video.


*Bandy, M., Bohn, S. & Danielson, C. (2016, May). Income inequality and the safety net in california. Public Policy Institute of California. (pp. 8-17) Retrieved from

Final Address: Robert Solomon

Robert Solomon, UCI Clinical Law Professor, closed the event with a final address regarding “Effective Avenues Through Organizing the Legal System for Mitigating the Consequences of Poverty in California.”

Solomon presents and explains a partnership that was formed between the UCI School of Law and an impoverished farming community in Coachella, through which UCI Law students were recruited to provide aid to the community and advocate for its improvement.


He focuses his discussion on the issue of housing in regards to poverty and income inequality, sharing some history of the American housing market and some statistics regarding the current status of housing issues in California.