Publication Date

10-12-2018

Abstract

The Homeless Alliance of Western New York analyzed racial disparities among homelessness within Western New York and examined the homeless system’s equity serving different racial/ethnic groups in terms of receiving those services, prioritizing those services, and housing success rate. The ideal model for an unbiased homeless system would distribute assistance such that it is received in equal percentages across racial/ethnic groups as the percent of that racial group experiencing homelessness. One of the consequences of systemic racism is an overrepresentation of people of color among those who experience homelessness. Black people make up 11% of the general population of Western New York but they account for 25% of the people in poverty and 47% of the homeless population. When the number of people who experience homelessness are compared against the number of people who are in poverty, Black people living in poverty are 3 times more likely to experience homelessness compared to White people. These suggest that poverty rates alone do not explain the over-representation, but that systemic racism blunts the ability of people of color to recover from financial catastrophe to avoid homelessness relative to those who are White.

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