Doubling up: What is it? And How does it Impact Latino families?

As Hispanic Heritage Month wrapped up earlier this October, we hope to provide some insight into the impact of homelessness on Latino communities, as well as create a space to continue the discussion on how local governments can create a better response.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines homelessness under a few different categories including Unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth, who do not otherwise qualify as homeless under this definition, but who: 

  1.  Are defined as homeless under the other listed federal statutes;
  2.  Have not had a lease, ownership interest, or occupancy agreement in permanent housing during the 60 days prior to the homeless assistance application;
  3.  Have experienced persistent instability as measured by two moves or more during in the preceding 60 days; and
  4.  Can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time due to special needs or barriers    

Many Latino individuals and families are experiencing homelessness, through a concept known as “doubling up.” Doubling up can be defined as two or more families or adults living in the same unit.  Though data shows that Latino households tend to be overcrowded, the data does not show the reasons behind it, which hold important implications for the cultural competency framework of individuals who work in policymaking. It is important for municipal policymakers, who create occupancy codes, to understand that some households prefer doubling up, while others do not.

Occupancy codes are not the only thing to consider, as many Latino households, especially immigrant households, double up due to economic circumstances. When multiple generations are living in a Latino household, they can have limited access to economic resources, education, and healthcare.

Despite these obstacles, data collected for the HUD-sponsored Family Options Study to take a closer look at the experience of Hispanic families experiencing homelessness reflect that Latino families continue to show resilience. That resiliency is something municipal policymakers should consider in uplifting these communities. For example, local policymakers can help these families by creating affordable housing without harsh occupancy codes or that has enough living space for multiple families.

It is also important for Latino folks with lived experience to get involved in city and county governments to give further input on doubling up and other issues that affect this community. As research on doubling up increases both municipal governments and Latino families can better decide what solutions will work best for everyone.

posted in: