Panel Paper: Latin America City Innovations in Homelessness Services

Friday, July 20, 2018
Building 3, Room 212 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jay Bainbridge, Marist College

The issue of homelessness is historically a social, economic, cultural and legal process in the Latin American region that has been increasing in urban contexts alongside modern economic systems. Two recent Latin American municipal experiences, in Mexico City and Bogota, are instructive in terms of adapting to the changing demographics of homelessness -- even with limited resources.
In June 2016, Mexico City passed a local law to require implementation of a strategic plan to move people off the street. Among the key commitments of the law were a homeless count every two years, an electronic registry and case management system, street outreach management restructuring, a pilot preventive services center and family shelter, and development of a supportive housing unit.
Currently, Bogota is moving to institute its own point-in-time count, in conjunction with a national census effort that took place in late 2017/early 2018. Bogota has sophisticated means of characterizing and geocoding their population, but are seeking ways to better estimate the scale of their large problem, so estimates can be done regularly, consistently, and used over time to gauge impact of their programs. As part of its counting initiatives, Bogota is implementing expanded homeless prevention services, and performance measurement practices.

Given that the U.S. and Europe are also undergoing evolving demands in urban areas, these large-scale municipal efforts can provide guidance in terms of documenting changes in the population, motivating initiatives, and monitoring their impact.