Sunday, March 04, 2012

New Study from ICPH

African Americans Over-represented in the Homeless Population

With the submission of annual data by the shelters to HUD, it provides good solid information for researches to pick over and present to the world.  This data is horrible for counting the number of homeless people in America, which ironically was the original purpose of forcing every shelter to submit.  But it does give excellent information on the demographics using the shelters in the country. So, the Intitute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness has looked at 2010 data and found that African Americans are disproportionately represented in shelters throughout the United States. 
"In 2010, one out of every 141 black family members stayed in a homeless shelter, a rate seven times higher than members of white families, according to “Intergenerational Disparities Experienced by Homeless Black Families,” a report released today by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness."
Three times as many African American families were living in poverty compared to white families.  African Americans are impoverished at 23.3% while white families only have 12% of their total population living in poverty in the United States.   The report looks at various cities how many are experiencing homelessness including St. Louis and New York City with over 90% of their 2010 homeless population black.  Cleveland's African American population was listed as the high 90%, but the County reports a figure around 80% for 2010 and 2011.  The figure is so high it raises some troubling questions. Why hasn't the first African American president talked much about homelessness or poverty when there is this huge disparity among minority populations?  Why aren't the national civil rights organizations more involved in the struggle to end homelessness?  Why isn't this issue ever discussed by social service providers or part of the planning to serve the population?  Why are African Americans so overly represented in the homeless population and Hispanic/Latino populations so under represented? 

What policy initiatives can we put in place when dealing with evictions using these statistics?  What does this tell us about prevention if African Americans are so overly represented in the shelters?  How do we change intake with the knowledge that African Americans are disproportionately represented in the beds of the shelters?  How do we set guidelines for diversion if we know that African Americans make up such a large number of homeless people?  These are disturbing number, but what do we do with them?

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