Black Homelessness Differs From That of Other Groups

Black Homelessness Differs From That of Other Groups

A housing advocate wonders if a race-specific approach can cure Black homelessness.

Published June 10, 2011

Janet Denise Kelly, a veteran housing and non-profit sector executive, contends that the systemic roots of Black homelessness make it nearly impossible to eradicate.


So, in a recent opinion piece for, she wonders if specific monitoring of how African-Americans fall into and get out of homelessness may provide clues to a better solution.


Black homelessness problems, she says, are underpinned by the fact that African-Americans face continuing marginalization and disparities in education, family stability and food security. Yet despite this unique socioeconomic heritage, Kelly says “no policy I have seen recognizes that homeless intervention and prevention need a race approach.”


A chief cause of homelessness for Blacks has always been the lack of dependable well-paid employment. In metropolitan Los Angeles, where Kelly is based, African-Americans have seen their unemployment rate rise from 8.6 percent in 2006 to over 19 percent in 2011.


But even when a family climbs out of homelessness, the underserved neighborhoods that they most likely will live in make it is easy to re-enter a cycle of underemployment or joblessness that can lead to losing one’s housing.


Kelly writes:


"The need is enormous and the resources are few to improve the reduction of African-American homelessness.  There is very little investment in mitigating the causes of historic and external conditions that created the problem in the first place. 

“The homeless system needs a redesign to chart and monitor the outcomes of African-Americans so that homeless programs reflect the cultural competency necessary to solve the problem and produce better outcomes.”

What do you think, what are some solutions to the homeless problem?

(Photo: Molly Riley/Reuters)

Written by Frank McCoy


Latest in news