Melissa Chinchilla

Research Scientist

[email protected]

Before joining AltaMed as a Research Scientist, Melissa Chinchilla was a Post Doctoral Fellow in Health Services Research and Development at the Veteran Administration of Greater Los Angeles and a Master of Science candidate in Health Policy Management at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

Dr. Chinchilla’s research rests at the intersection of housing, health, and community development. Her dissertation examined the community integration outcomes of formerly homeless individuals assisted through the VA’s largest homeless program, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-VA Supportive Housing (VASH). Dr. Chinchilla’s research on HUD-VASH points to the importance of voucher type and neighborhood factors in assuring that formerly homeless individuals in supportive housing are able to achieve housing stability and improvements in quality of life. Dr. Chinchilla’s current research examines Latino homelessness in Los Angeles County, including what is driving the increase in Latino homelessness, gaps in housing and service provision, and best practices for serving this population. Dr. Chinchilla has also published on the use of Health Impact Assessment as an interdisciplinary teaching tool, and continues to examine ways to bridge the divide between public health and urban planning disciplines.

Dr. Chinchilla’s work has been published by MIT Press and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. She has received research funding from the Pricilla King Gray Public Service Center, Sagalyn and Hack Dissertation Grant, and the Veteran Administration Research Enhancement Award Program.

Dr. Chinchilla earned her doctorate in Urban Studies and Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also holds a master in City and Regional Planning and bachelor degrees in Social Welfare and Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley.


Homelessness, Affordable Housing, Social Determinants of Health

Comparing Tenant and Neighborhood Characteristics of the VA’s Project- vs. Tenant-Based Supportive Housing Program in Los Angeles County

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

Year: 2019

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-Veteran Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) program uses project- and tenant-based vouchers to provide permanent supportive housing for homeless Veterans. We compared Veteran characteristics, health service utilization, and neighborhood characteristics between HUD-VASH … Continue reading

Exploring Community Integration Among Formerly Homeless Veterans in Project‑Based Versus Tenant‑Based Supportive Housing

Community Mental Health Journal

Year: 2020

Community integration—an individual’s embeddedness in his/her community—impacts mental and physical health. This study aimed to understand factors affecting community integration among Veterans in the Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were … Continue reading

Latinx Homelessness in Los Angeles

Homelessness Policy Research Institute

Year: 2020

Latinx people experiencing homelessness, a rapidly growing population, accounted for 36% of the homeless population in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care in 2019. Due to a unique combination of challenges, including language barriers, culturally rooted stigmas, a lack of … Continue reading

Research Topics

  • Research Types