Estimates put that as many as 20,000 people in SF will experience homelessness in 2022. Although members of the Latinx community make up 16% of the city's total residents, the demographic now makes up more than 30% of SF's unhoused population — a huge increase since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In a recent interview published by NPR, KQED housing reporter Vanessa Rancaño spoke of her investigation into the rising rates of homelessness among Latinxs in SF, despite rates of homelessness declining overall, according to City reports. Among the litany of reasons why this is happening — rents across the city sitting, on average, 19% higher than their pandemic lows; rates of inflation leading to increased living expenses; the City and State eviction moratoriums on back due rent payments having expired; etc. — is that many of the service industry positions members of the Latinx community relied on during the pandemic have evaporated.

In households that have members all employed within the same job field, losing these streams of income is financially disastrous.

"When every single person in the household is losing their job, it really created a very dire situation," says Laura Valdez, executive director of the Latino-focused Dolores Street Community Service, noting that many Latinx community members don't have a lease — "they don't know their rights."

(In San Francisco, even without a lease, there are still landlord-tenant laws that must be followed. Many predatory landlords looking to evict low-paying tenants frequently engage in unlawful eviction practices and bullying tactics to pressure tenants out of their homes. Unfortunately, their efforts are often successful — for the sole reason that those being evicted believe they're not entitled to renter protection laws, because they don't have a signed lease; this is not true.)

Coupled with language and cultural barriers, and local rates of homelessness among Latinx individuals have ballooned over 55% since March 2020. Now, they make up nearly a third of all unhoused residents in San Francisco.

Emily Cohen, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, reports that more City-funded resources are coming to underserved communities and Latinx-serving organizations.

Even though community organizers more than welcome these resources, they all note that the core of this issue must be addressed to make any long-lasting change: the lack of affordable local housing and the high cost of living in San Francisco.

With Bay Area realtors and economists predicting rents could go up 5% to 10% by the end of the year, coupled with the fact that there's a fair chance the country will enter into a recession early next year, both those concerns need to be heeded with the urgency they require... instead of falling on deaf ears.

Related: Depressingly, There Are Enough Vacant Housing Units In SF to House the Homeless Population Eight Times Over

Photo: Getty Images/peeterev