SAN JOSE, Calif. - A new report says due to the pandemic, over 22,000 additional people fell into homelessness in California. The data also shows that Latinos experienced an increase in homelessness during that time, more than any other group.
Even before the pandemic, millions of Californians were already struggling to make ends meet. But being out of work and getting sick with COVID, forced thousands of people out of their homes.
Over the course of the pandemic, the count taken by the federal government says at least 22,500 additional people in California did not have a place to live. That pushed the number of homeless people in the state to 173,800.
"If we don’t stop the inflow of people coming into homelessness, we’ll never get ahead of the problem," said Edie Irons, Communications Director for All Home.
All Home, a homeless advocacy group that serves the Bay Area, says they thought even more people would lose their homes because of the pandemic, but the safety nets put in place actually worked.
"A lot of people were saved from losing their homes and managed to stay in their homes because of emergency rental assistance and all the other programs that we saw. So that is a window into where we need to go and what we need to do more of," Irons said.
Still, federal data shows the number of Latinos in California who became homeless increased over the last three years. In Los Angeles, that number jumped 26%, an additional 6,000 people.
"It wouldn’t surprise me, that when a pandemic hits, they would be the most affected and move into homelessness because they’re already making the least amount of money," said Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, Lead-Author of the Silicon Valley Pain Index, and Sociology Professor at San Jose State University.
The 2022 Silicon Valley Pain Index, an annual report highlighting inequalities, notes that in 2021, 61% of Latino households could not provide their basic needs with their income.
"They cannot provide food, clothing, or housing for themselves without financial assistance, either from the non-profit world or from the government. They have to have those two, just to provide the basics. And so that’s what that number means," Myers-Lipton said.
All Home says temporary housing, building more permanent, affordable housing and safety nets are needed to keep people out of homelessness. But all of those things need to be done at the same time, and it’s just not happening right now.