CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Without an address, many people in the unhoused community assumed they wouldn’t be able to vote. But they can. Could they be the forgotten vote?
For the last four years, Brooke Carrillo has been living in a Chatsworth homeless encampment where cleaning sweeps have become more common.
“I’ve had my stuff taken many times and it’s frustrating. I try to fight it but they just come and do it,” Carrillo said.
It’s a constant battle for about 120 people who are unhoused in the Chatsworth area encampments. But recently, an outreach worker showed Carrillo a way to make her voice heard, by registering to vote without an ID or an exact address.
“I don’t believe that politicians should be able to call the shots and everything and being out here? They call the shots. But, they call the wrong shots,” Carrillo said.
According to data gathered by the Public Policy Institute of California, low-income individuals have been found in previous elections to be less likely to vote. Pastor Kathy Huck is the founder of About My Father’s Business Homeless Outreach Ministry. Armed with phones and an internet connection, Pastor Huck and her team are on a mission to get as many unhoused residents like Carrillo registered to vote online.
Those who are unhoused can fill out a voter registration form on lavote.net and input identification information or the last four of their social security number and list a nearby intersection as an address. By giving the unhoused a voice, Pastor Huck believes it could change future regulations.
“The politicians are listening to people who are housed and so if I’m housed, I can call and have this encampment swept. They are listening to me, I’m a voter. I’m important. Well, they are the other side of the coin. They should be able to call and say, 'Hey we need garbage bags. Hey we need [portable toilets],'” Huck said.
It took Carrillo only minutes to register to vote, but she was instantly inspired to help others in the unhoused community do the same.
“I wanted to get out here and show my fellow unhoused people that their voice counts. That it matters. If they put their voice out there? They aren’t invisible,” Carrillo said.
Together, Carrillo and Pastor Huck’s team continued to help others register to vote by the Feb. 18 voter registration deadline. Now, they hope this will lead the unhoused community to take more action in politics by having their vote count.