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HPRI Symposium – Moving Toward An Anti-Racist System For Ending and Preventing Homelessness: Latinx Homelessness

Tue, March 28 @ 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Nationally, Latinx homelessness increased by 8% between 2020 and 2022, with a 16% increase in those who were unsheltered (HUD, 2022). These increases outpaced overall increases in homelessness across the nation. Across the largest CoCs nationwide by PIT Count, Latinx homelessness increased more (or decreased less) than the overall homeless population change in every case. In Los Angeles homelessness rose by 4% across the county, but for the Latinx community it rose by nearly 26% (NAEH 2023).

Generally, homeless counts have shown that Latinx homelessness is lower than would be anticipated given community poverty rates. Researchers have proposed that lower than expected homeless rates are due to Latinxs’ reliance on social networks and informal support systems (Aiken et al., 2021). As a result, there has been a prevalent belief that Latinx individuals and families are more likely to avoid homelessness . However, rising point-in-time counts indicate a need to better understand how homelessness is experienced by the Latinx community and what may be behind the troubling trends.

This symposium will help think through what comes next – how do we understand the risks and needs of Latinx community members?  What are the most effective ways to prevent further increases in Latinx homelessness?  How can we adjust our homeless service and housing assistance programs to welcome Latinx peoples experiencing homelessness and house them?  What existing best practices tailored to Latinx communities can we scale?

This event will be in English with Spanish closed captions
Este evento será en ingles con subtítulos en español

RSVP To Attend Virtually

Presenters and Panelists:

Dr. Melissa Chinchilla
Assistant Project Scientist, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. Investigator, VISN 22 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center and VA Health Services Research & Development Los Angeles Center of Innovation (COIN)

Dr. Melissa Chinchilla is a Health Services Researcher with the VA Greater Los Angeles (GLA) HSR&D Center of Innovation (COIN): Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation, and Policy; and an Associate Investigator with the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development (RR&D) Center on Enhancing Community Integration for Homeless Veterans (THRIVe). Prior to joining the VA, Dr. Chinchilla was a Research Scientist with AltaMed Health Service’s Institute for Health Equity, one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the nation, serving over 300,000 low-income patients in Southern California.

Dr. Chinchilla’s research focuses on the social determinants of health, with an emphasis on housing and homelessness. Among other work, she has conducted research on community integration outcomes of formerly homeless Veterans housed through VA’s largest homeless program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-VA Supportive Housing (VASH). Her work also focuses on increasing our understanding of Latinx homelessness including barriers to homeless services connection and culturally relevant engagement strategies. Her work has been published in various journals including Cityscape, the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, and the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. She also serves on several local and national committee’s including the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ Research Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Race and Ethnicity Homeless Data Work Group and was appointed by the former Mayor of the City of Los Angeles (Mayor Eric Garcetti) to serve as a Commissioner for the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority.

Dr. Chinchilla earned her doctorate in Urban Studies and Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Los Angeles native.


Rhiannon Diaz
CSH Speak Up! Advocate;
A Community of Friends Advisory Board Consultant

Rhiannon Diaz is a CSH Speak Up! Advocate and currently serves on the board of A Community of Friends as an Advisory Board Consultant. She has participated in many engagements in support of racial equity, homeless services, and permanent supportive housing. Rhiannon is currently in supportive housing herself, and loves to tell people of the benefits and blessings of permanent supportive housing and how it helps to end homelessness and the disparities faced by people of color.




Isela Gracian
Deputy on Housing and Homelessness
2nd Supervisorial District of Los Angeles

Isela Gracian serves as Supervisor Mitchell’s Senior Deputy on Housing and Homelessness, leading the Supervisor’s housing, homelessness, and planning policy. She brings to the Second Supervisorial District over sixteen years of experience in grassroots community work. She served as the President of East LA Community Corporation, where she led policy campaigns, community wealth programs, and the development of affordable housing. Isela is recognized as a leader in community-driven development weaving together the intersections of housing, income generation, environmental justice, and culture.


Irene Muro
Executive Director of Whittier First Day

Since October 2015, Irene Muro has served as Executive Director for the Whittier Area First Day Coalition (First Day), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk individuals and families transition toward self-sufficiency. Driven by a life-long passion to empower, to create sustainability and to positively effect systems change in low-income communities, Irene has built a professional career working with agencies dedicated to improving the quality of life of others. At First Day, Irene is responsible for general operations of the organization, providing guidance and leadership in policy implementation, program management and financial oversight.

Prior to First Day, Irene served as a Community Benefit Manager for Kaiser Permanente where she helped manage the Community Benefit portfolio for the hospital including grant management. This work was preceded by nine years of employment at the Oldtimers Housing Development Corporation/Steelworkers Oldtimers Foundation in Southeast Los Angeles as Chief Executive Officer and Director of Operations.

Irene’s background also includes extensive legislative and community relations experience from her work as District Representative for State Senator Martha Escutia (ret.), Field Representative for Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh and as an Outreach Coordinator at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

A child of immigrant parents, Irene was taught that education was fundamental to personal and professional success, driving her decision to pursue an undergraduate education in Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master in Public Administration degree with a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from California State University, Northridge. She is a current member of the UCLA Alumni Association, Cal State Northridge Alumni Association and the American Society for Public Administration.

Most recently, Irene was appointed to the Community Benefit Oversight Committee at PIH Health which serves as an advisory body to the PIH Health Chief Officers Group and helps to guide the hospital’s Community Health Improvement Plan. She also serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Outreach Taskforce and was elected as an alternate representative for SPA 7 to the Los Angeles County Continuum of Care Board.

Irene currently resides in Whittier with her husband and three boys.


Jose “Che” Ramirez
Deputy Mayor for City Homelessness Initiatives City of Los Angeles

Jose “Che” Ramirez currently serves as Mayor Bass’ Deputy Mayor for City Homelessness Initiatives. He previously served in this role for over two years under Mayor Eric Garcetti overseeing efforts at the peak of the pandemic to construct interim shelters, build and acquire supportive and affordable housing projects, deliver vital services, and bring more unhoused Angelenos indoors than ever before. 

Prior to his 2 plus years working in government, he spent 20 years in the non-profit service provider sector. From working with foster youth and high acuity young adults in transitional housing in his hometown of Oxnard, to running one of the largest homeless service providers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin at the start of the pandemic, he has led efforts throughout California including over 10 years in Los Angeles developing and implementing a diverse playbook of housing and services led homelessness solutions. 

Che’s journey has been as much personal as professional, having personally experienced homelessness as a teen. His commitment to servant leadership comes from personal experiences of resilience and community building. He is currently co-leading and implementing Mayor Bass’ Inside Safe initiative, housing hundreds of vulnerable Angelenos on putting them on a path to permanent supportive housing.


Gary Painter
Homelessness Policy Research Institute

Gary Painter is a Professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Director of the Homelessness Policy Research Institute. He recently published a co-authored book entitled, “Payment by Results and Social Impact Bonds: Outcome-based Payment Systems in the UK and US.” He has published numerous articles in top journals such as the Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Urban Economics, Urban Studies, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Real Estate Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, and Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Professor Painter is a leading figure in the field of social innovation. In addition to his recent book, he works extensively with a variety of social innovation organizations and collective impact networks to address some of the grand challenges that society faces. His current research focuses on how to activate the social innovation process. Professor Painter also has extensive expertise in housing, urban economics, and education policy, which shapes his research on how the social innovation process can identify new models of social change within these complex policy areas.


Saba Mwine
Managing Director
Homelessness Policy Research Institute

Saba Mwine (She/Her/Hers) is the managing director of the Homelessness Policy Research Institute (HPRI), a collaborative of over one hundred researchers, policymakers, service providers, and experts with lived experience that accelerate equitable and culturally informed solutions to homelessness in Los Angeles County by advancing knowledge and fostering transformational partnerships between research, policy and practice. She has twenty years of experience spearheading housing justice work throughout the nation: measuring access to housing based on race and other protected classes and supporting equity centered collaborative initiatives in the movement to end homelessness. Saba has played numerous roles, from project designer and civil rights investigator, test coordinator to management consultant, racial equity educator and practitioner. In her tenure at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), she established their first racial equity initiatives via fundraising, designing grant programming, developing and delivering transformative learnings, and guiding community initiatives. Saba is a classically trained actor and holds a master’s of fine arts in theatre; she is committed to the arts as a tool for healing racial trauma and shaping community spaces. In California and nationally, Saba is a prominent voice in the movement to establish racism and white supremacy culture as the most pervasive and least examined cause and perpetuator of homelessness.

As managing director of HPRI, Saba is responsible for advancing the Institute’s strategic vision to express equity in all activities and engage community with lived experience of homelessness and serves as the lead staff person for all HPRI activities, including conducting and supervising rapid response research, RFP services, and research translation. Additionally, Saba supports the implementation of HPRI’s research agenda and works in close leadership with HPRI’s Race Equity Committee and other stakeholders to establish equity frameworks for key areas of the HPRI’s work. She is also responsible for planning and producing HPRI research symposia and other events and helps conduct policy outreach at the local, state, and national levels.


RSVP To Attend Virtually


Tue, March 28
9:00 am - 11:00 am




Homelessness Policy Research Institute