Racism and Disproportionality in Homeless Services

Racism and Disproportionality in Homeless Services
by Klarissa Monteros, AM Program Manager, Diversion Services

On December 6, Pierce County Community Connections brought in Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities at the Center for Social Innovation (SPARC) to have a training and thoughtful discussion on racism and disproportionality in homeless services.  We worked together to come to a common definition of levels of racism among our conversations and explored the history of racism and disproportionality within housing.

We went into depth about homelessness being a symptom of racism dating back to racially restrictive covenants in 1917 which lasted until 1948. From 1948 all the way up until 1968 these covenants were still used except they were no longer enforced by the state they were enforced on local levels. Federal Housing Authority Red Lining was also a major contributor and this lasted from 1934 all the way until the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Since 1968 we have still had to struggle with inequities in housing because of race but the form has changed into gentrification and housing discrimination. Another aspect of racism and homelessness is the Racial Wealth Gap. To this day Median Total Net Worth and Median Home Equity differs drastically when compared by race.





Median Total Net Worth




Median Home Equity





Some of the focus of the training was on equity and the need for housing services to be equitable and not equal.  Discussion was also had about the difference between diversity and inclusion. If an agency seeks to be fully inclusive and not just diverse there are several steps that can be taken which includes hiring practice. They suggested revamping job descriptions to include culture and language of diverse populations, have a diverse hiring committee so that candidates of all races can see people who look like them, and need for personal experience to be just as high as education or to evaluate if a degree is truly needed for the position. Associated Ministries was proud to discuss our work in becoming an Anti-Racist, Multicultural organization. We have created a taskforce and implementation plan for 2017 so that we can address Anti-Racism across the organization. We take this work very seriously and were excited to see the community come together to educate one another and talk about what anti-racism, equitable services and full inclusion looks like in our local community. We are definitely in the forefront in hiring practices and service delivery.

If you would like to learn more on your own some great educational resources are below:

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