The Heartbreaking Truth About Black Communities That Experience Homelessness

According to the 2019 San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey, African American residents compose 37% of individuals experiencing homelessness. This imbalance is even more apparent in the Tenderloin neighborhood where it is basically a Black community, said Del Seymour – the co-chair of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board at City Hall and director of Code Tenderloin. So, why is it that the Black communities make up a large amount of those that experience homelessness?

The National Alliance to End Homelessness talks about the four main causes: poverty, segregation/rental housing discrimination, incarceration, and access to quality health care.

“Black and Latinx groups are overrepresented in poverty relative to their representation in the overall population and are most likely to live in deep poverty,” which is a huge factor in causing homelessness.

With housing prices increasing in California, it is difficult for Black families to find affordable housing; most especially, with growing eviction rates. According to KQED, “Black renters have been disproportionately forced out of cities across California — including a decline of 43% of the population of San Francisco’s Black residents since 1990.” A major cause of this housing disparity is due to the federal government enforcing a systemic housing unfairness called “redlining.” Redlining is an act of discrimination by mortgage lenders denying loans or insurance providers restricting services to certain areas of a community, which tend to be people of color. In turn, Black and other minorities are often immobilized in their ability to economically invest to this day and has become the source of this wealth gap.

In the case of incarceration, African Americans experience higher rates given that they are more likely to be discriminately targeted and detained for the tiniest felonies.

With that rising rate, “[a] criminal history can keep people from successfully passing background checks to secure both housing and employment,” says the National Alliance to End Homelessness. This results in difficulties in finding a job with a stable income, affordable housing, etc.

On top of these other causes, a lack of quality health care for Black communities could worsen any medical conditions that they already have and lead to being homeless. The system does not provide much help for them to stay afloat financially, physically, and mentally. Consequently, the system obstructs this community from receiving equitable recovery. 

In order to stop this cycle and bring homelessness to an end, we must all be aware of this issue of racial inequity towards the Black community that experiences homelessness. They deserve secure and affordable housing as much as anyone else and we all should be a helping hand to their local outreach programs. 


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