Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Surge in Latino Homeless Population in Los Angeles

Recent figures released by Los Angeles show Latino homelessness shot up by 63% in the county last year, with an overall increase of 23% despite increasing efforts to get people off the street. Although nearly all demographics, including youth, families and veterans, saw an increase in homelessness, Latinos particularly delivered one of the sharpest rises, contributing more than 7,000 people.

“I would say it’s a whole new phenomenon,” said County Supervisor Hilda Solis, whose district saw Latino homelessness go up by 84%. “We have to put it on the radar and really think outside the box when we consider how to help this population.”

Officials and outreach groups who study homelessness say that Los Angeles’ rising rents and stale wages are the main drivers pushing many out to the streets. According to a study released by the Homeless Services Authority, renters living in Los Angeles are the most cost-burdened nationwide, with more than 2 million households having housing costs that exceed 30% of their income.

“This is a population that’s already living under very difficult circumstances,” said USC sociology professor Manuel Pastor. “When you increase rents, you really start to see a bigger impact.”

Latinos are particularly at risk, with those lacking legal status struggling to find work, and most Latinos working two to three low-paying jobs to make ends meet, and avoiding public assistance. In order to combat the prevalence of homelessness in Los Angeles, service providers must reflect the community, and provide competent, culturally sensitive information in Spanish.

LA Times