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Letters to the Editor: We don’t have the full picture of Latinx homelessness. Here’s how we can get it

People walk near a tent encampment in Venice.
People walk near a tent encampment in Venice on May 26.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: It should be no surprise to anyone that Latinx homelessness is on the rise. However, efforts to address the broader homelessness crisis in California have largely overlooked Latinxs, who are the state’s largest ethnic group and make up 39% of the population. (“California should back a program to prevent homelessness, not just react to it,” Opinion, June 2)

For years, lower than anticipated homeless count numbers led many to assume that the Latinx community was somehow immune to the housing crisis. However, these numbers have failed to capture the full picture.

Few have bothered to examine the unique barriers that Latinxs experience in accessing services or how efforts to avoid entering the shelter system, including living in substandard or overcrowded housing, impact individual and community well-being.

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A lack of urgency around Latinx homelessness affects our ability to identify the true scale of need and to adequately estimate the resources needed to tackle the homelessness crisis. What we need now is a comprehensive effort to understand and address Latinx homelessness.

A starting point would be a state-supported ad-hoc committee on Latinx people experiencing homelessness to inform culturally relevant strategies that help move our most vulnerable unhoused residents toward long-term stability.

Melissa Chinchilla, Los Angeles

The writer is a research scientist focusing on Latinx homelessness in L.A. County.


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