Black people are overrepresented in the country’s homeless population and account for more than half of homeless families.
These shocking facts come from the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, Buzzfeed reported. The research determined there were about 568,000 homeless people in the United States in 2019. Black people make up only 13 percent of the general population but represent 40 percent of the homeless.
In comparison, white people account for 48 percent of the homeless population and 77 percent of the overall population. When children are introduced into the equation, the stats get worse.
Black families with children make up 52 percent of homeless families, compared to 35 percent for white families.
“African Americans have remained considerably overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population,” the report stated. “This report demonstrates continued progress toward ending homelessness, but also a need to re-calibrate policy to make future efforts more effective and aligned with the unique needs of different communities.”
Overall, homelessness increased by 2.7 percent since 2018. Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, blames it on America’s growing income inequality.
“The reason for the increase is that more and more people are falling into homelessness. They don’t make enough to pay for the housing that’s available,” Roman said in a press release.
“This year’s numbers must motivate our federal leaders to ramp up the resources for the evidence based, housing-focused solutions to homelessness that are proven to work.”
An alarming amount of homeless Black people has shown up in prior research. The homelessness epidemic in Los Angeles is well documented, and Black Californians are being hit the hardest. A report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) found Black people make up 36 percent of the city’s homeless population. In comparison, white residents comprise 25 percent of LA’s homeless. Black people account for less than 10 percent of Los Angeles’ population.
“If you want to end homelessness, you have to end it for those groups that are disproportionately impacted,” Jacqueline Waggoner, a LAHSA commissioner and chair of the special committee that compiled the data, told LAist. “What we want is a system that works for everyone. We learned through this process how the system is not working for everyone.”
Roman made a similar point.
“Any increase in homelessness is bad news. But we must be clear about the causes and solutions,” Roman said. “This isn’t the fault of the homelessness sector, and it is not the fault of people experiencing homelessness. It is the fault of systems that have failed our most vulnerable populations, and leaders who have failed to protect them. Our charge for 2020 is to remain committed to the best practices in ending homelessness, and to remain resolved to addressing the systems that cause people to become homeless.”