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Addressing barriers to homeless services for Latinxs: insights from a community health center

Chinchilla M. Addressing barriers to homeless services for Latinxs: insights from a community health center. Journal of social distress and the homeless. 2023 Mar 8;

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While experiencing significant rates of homelessness, Latinxs are less likely to connect to and receive homeless services when compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Disconnection from homeless services can be detrimental to an individual's well-being. Through social needs screening and referrals, community health centers can be a vital source of service linkage for Latinx persons experiencing homelessness (PEH). To understand how health centers are assisting Latinx PEH and to identify challenges and key practices, four focus groups (n = 31) were conducted with program staff at a large community health center serving a predominantly low-income Latinx population. Identifying housing need was a critical first step in facilitating referrals to local homeless services providers. Participants noted that trust was critical to surpassing initial challenges of shame and stigma that many PEH experience and that thwart identification of need. Engagement approaches sensitive to cultural norms surrounding gender were also critical. Further, foreign-born Latinxs were identified as facing unique challenges related to immigration, which require greater attention from homelessness advocates. Overall, homelessness is a growing concern for the Latinx community and health centers can potentially provide important support for this vulnerable population through culturally-informed engagement.

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