For Latinos, economic upward mobility doesn’t happen in a silo or vacuum. It is a product of much more than isolated success. 

Maybe your family immigrated here during the Mexican Revolution and bought a home. Yet their lineage continues to face economic disparity. There are generations of Latino families in Los Angeles who work full-time but can’t afford to live here. So they, like other Californians, continue to leave the city, county and even the state.

Latinos and especially Latinas continue to make 70 to 75 cents to the dollars of their white counterparts in this country and with the long-term effects of the pandemic, this has only gotten worse

In Los Angeles county, the latest countywide Universal Basic Income  program just closed its limited applications for foster youth. For three years, recipients of the Breathe program are set to receive $1,000 a month and a supportive caseworker. A similar program that was citywide was Big Leap, which has proven to work for families who were experiencing hardship throughout the pandemic. Both of these programs aren’t set to be renewed and require continued political will to continue.

The Bass administration has shared that there is still an ongoing need to get the word out around social services programs when it comes to housing and economic recovery. We need more than an emergency response to homelessness. Families who rent and even own are still struggling.

The late Mike Davis wrote that Los Angeles “has come to play the double role of utopia and dystopia for advanced capitalism.” This was very evident during the late 1990s when he wrote this. Movie stars were becoming more publicly rich. Karen Bass was working on poverty programs as a young organizer in South Central. Now more than 30 years after Davis published “City of Quartz,” the same issues play out.

For many families, this region is no longer an affordable place to live. We should differentiate how we define housing ability and access. 

Take a walk down Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. Where it was once common to see Latino families eating at Patra’s Burgers or even El Compadre after church, the neighborhood is now where mostly young people gather in groups of friends and into coffee shops to work from home. This gentrification has been detailed already before. We’ve debated the optics and realities of gentrification, displacement and what it means to defend a neighborhood

But the truth is that if you’re a single artist, or in a relationship, or you move here with friends, renting out a one to two-bedroom apartment will still be hard. But it may work for your short-term plan to get a job here and eventually get something bigger or share with someone over time. But for an immigrant family, who moves to Koreatown and shares a studio with another family, even that is becoming more and more impossible. 

We need bold solutions. Latino-owned businesses and entrepreneurs continue to receive less loans and opportunities from foundations and banks according to the latest studies. The 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship report found that 20% of Latino-owned businesses that applied to national banks for loans over $100,000 received funding, compared with 50% of white-owned businesses.

Even for top-tier building developers, there is little to no representation of Latinos.

What is the opposite of trickle-down economics then? 

As an educator however, my bias leans towards identifying and combating educational opportunity gaps for my people. Hispanic Serving Institutions continue to show that targeted development, outreach and retention of Latino students continue to pay off not only for the students but the collective growth of the Latino community.

What if we treated Latinos who aren’t students the way we treat university students at these schools? The same way we invest through scholarships and fellowships, we can invest in everyday workers, family members and even people in recovery of all kinds. 

Los Angeles is the first city I called home when I immigrated here. My family has struggled in the city and has been one of the thousands of families who have been pushed outside Los Angeles county. But I’m still fighting to stay here. I want to make sure it can still be a city that works for my family and for all Latinos in this city.

francisco aviles pino is a Mexican writer whose work has appeared in Vogue, The Intercept, The Nation, Netflix, and HarperCollins. They are alum of the Macondo Writers Workshop, the NALAC Leadership Institute,...