For Struggling Families in San Ysidro, Immigration Status and Housing Work Against Each Other


San Ysidro, a community perched on the U.S.-Mexico border, attracts people who are often in flux.

You’ll find Latinos who have been in the United States for generations, people who cross the border from Mexico every day to work, people who recently crossed into the United States for good – legally or illegally – and people who come from all over to be close to deported loved ones who now reside in Tijuana.

The community’s demographics and its location on the border contribute to a unique set of housing woes. San Ysidro has some of the more affordable housing in the county and lower street homelessness than downtown San Diego, yet its schools have the highest number of families struggling to find stable housing – nearly 1,500 students or a third of the district.

“They’re all here,” said Yolanda Carpio, who runs a program that gives out food to poor families at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in San Ysidro, in Spanish. “The families that have had loved ones deported. The families that need to be here for green cards. The families that have been here for decades. They’re all battling to find housing here.”

San Ysidro is more than 72 percent Latino. Latinos are traditionally underrepresented in homeless counts, even though they experience poverty at higher levels than whites. For example, in San Diego, 23 percent of the unsheltered homeless counted in the 2017 homeless census self-identified as Hispanic or Latino, while roughly a third of the county’s population is Latino.

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