Race is a Predictor of Homelessness: Powerful Presentations at the March CQM

Thank you for registering and/or attending last evening’s Community Quarterly Meeting to Solve Homelessness.  If you missed the meeting, you can view the recording on YouTube here.

Klarissa Montero, Senior Policy Analyst with the City of Tacoma, started a crucial conversation at our Community Quarterly Meeting (CQM) on March 18 about the structural and systemic practices that exist within institutions and which disproportionately impact people of color. Openly discussing institutional racism can be an extremely difficult conversation to have for many. Everyone was encouraged to lean in with curiosity and sit with their own discomfort as we work to better understand how institutions have been set up to favor outcomes for white people. As Klarissa stated, the data clearly reveals that people of color are being disproportionately served across all systems. Race is a predictor of an individual’s experiences and outcomes, including being a predictor of homelessness.    According to data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Homeless Management Information System, in December 2020 54% of people expiring homelessness in Pierce County were Black, Indigenous and People of Color, despite these racially marginalized communities only comprising 27% of Pierce County’s general population. Additionally, Schoolhouse Washington reports that 65% of students experiencing homelessness in Pierce County are students of color. We need to continue these conversations in order to effectively address homelessness in our community.   The purpose of the CQM is to create an energizing space to gather regularly to learn about, discuss and take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. Speakers are brought in to help participants understand effective interventions, discuss potential projects and solutions to homelessness. 

Also during the March CQM, Colin DeForrest with Innovative Impact Strategies, shared information about Pierce County’s new Safe Parking Network, which was recently launched at host churches in East Tacoma and Puyallup. This is an example of an effective intervention that would be a perfect opportunity for congregational involvement. Host sites provide access to a safe setting for those temporarily sleeping in their cars, as well as much-needed connections to resources to secure permanent housing. If your congregation has questions or is interested in learning more about this project, please contact Colin at colin@i2-strategies.com.

Tiegan Tidball, Management Analyst II at the City of Tacoma, then went on to strengthen our conversation by providing an overview of the resources available through the City of Tacoma to assist organizations or congregations with projects that result in safe sheltering or that otherwise serve the unhoused. To learn more about partnering with the City to facilitate your desire to serve the vulnerable, please contact Tiegan at TTidball@cityoftacoma.org.

Michael Yoder, Executive Director for Associated Ministries, wrapped up the meeting by sharing a brief update on ongoing opportunities to use our voices to advocate for policies that positively impact our vulnerable neighbors. Those interested in regular updates about statewide homelessness policy issues are encouraged to sign up to receive email alerts from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (www.wliha.org/advocacy). Here in Pierce County, an effort is being organized to encourage our County Council to consider the passage of a 1/10 of 1% sales tax increase to fund affordable housing; download this flyer to learn more.

The presentations, conversations and participation at the March CQM were true testimonies of how we are leaning on each other as we work to address homelessness as one community.  You are not alone or without support. Associated Ministries will continue to bring like-minded people together to hear speakers and be educated on what homelessness looks like in our community.
SAVE-THE-DATE for the next CQM Thursday, Jun. 17, 2021,  5:00-6:00 pm
Questions?  Contact Sandy Windley at sandyw@associatedministries.org.  See you on Zoom!  

Share this story!