Five pods of wetlands were installed at Hollenbeck Park Lake earlier this month. Photo by Daisy Escorcia.

New figures released by Los Angeles County show that Latino homelessness has gone up by 63% since last year, a number that county leaders are calling a “new phenomenon.”

The county’s overall homeless population rose by 23%, increasing the number of people who live on the street from 46,000 last year to 58,000 in 2017. The county says increasing housing and rental costs are connected to the rise in homelessness.

The Los Angeles Times reports that more people from nearly every demographic including youth and veterans are living on the streets. But the Times writes that Latinos represent one of the biggest booms in homelessness, accounting for more than 7,000 people in the increase since last year.

A lot of that growth is happening in the Eastside. According to numbers culled from the homeless count held in January, the homeless population in the county’s first district –which includes Boyle Heights– grew by 84%.

A USC sociology professor tells the Times that an increase in newly homeless, homeless youth, and homeless living in cars could be a sign that Latino homeless are people who work but cannot afford housing.

The Times spoke with a homeless man who uses a bench at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights to sleep on. Timoteo Arévalos used to have a government job, the Times writes, but he lost it during the recession. He got a job as a dishwasher but once his hours were cut, he was unable to afford rent and now he uses his backpack as a pillow.

Photo above: some of Boyle Heights’ residents use the facilities at Hollenbeck Park to sleep and use the bathroom. Photo by René Ayala.

Kyle Garcia

Kyle García is a former web editor with Boyle Heights Beat.

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