Cohen said her department is ramping up outreach work in the Mission District, in part by increasing partnerships with nonprofits that serve the Latinx community.
Francisco Herrera, who works on housing and homelessness issues for the city’s Latino Task Force, said evictions and difficulty accessing COVID rent relief played a major role in forcing more Latinos onto the streets.
“Right in the middle of the pandemic, when there was supposed to be a moratorium on evictions, in fact there were tons of evictions,” he said.
It all comes down to the severe shortage of affordable housing, Herrera added, a problem that can only be addressed through major policy changes.
“We need to prioritize affordable housing for people who live, work and have made this city, not market rate housing for people who do not even live here,” he said.
When the Latino Task Force surveyed more than 100 unhoused residents in the Mission earlier this year, it found that almost a quarter of them said they became homeless during the pandemic, and most were not on any housing waiting list.
The city’s February homelessness count found a total of 7,754 people living on the streets or in shelters, down from 8,035 in 2019. Of those, Black people continued to be the most overrepresented, making up 38% of the city’s unhoused population, despite accounting for only 6% of its general population.
Correction: An earlier version of the chart in this story listed the wrong percentage increase among unhoused Latinx residents between 2019 and 2022. It is an increase of 55%, not 30%.