One-Third of L.A. County’s Homeless are Black, says new report

Black people are more likely than White people to experience homelessness in the United States. Homelessness is a by-product of racism in America.

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said today a new report highlighting the elevated levels of homelessness among black Angelenos is a “critical first step” in addressing the disparities affecting the African-American community.

Black people make up 9 percent of the population of Los Angeles County, but more than one-third of its population experiencing homelessness, which is consistent demographically across the country, according to a report by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness.

Ridley-Thomas was among more than 100 county, city and community leaders gathered who gathered this morning to discuss the report at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park.

“This report is a critical first step to address the collective failings of systems and institutions that — de facto and de jure — have been designed to deliver the painful disparities that affect so many of our brothers and sisters,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Hard work lies ahead to counter this tragic inheritance. If our region is to prosper, it is not only a moral imperative, it is an absolute economic imperative that all who call Los Angeles home are able to attain their full measure of dignity and self-worth.”

The report, which includes 67 recommendations, concludes that racism, discrimination and unconscious bias in public systems and institutions has contributed to homelessness.

“We have long understood the painful reality that a disproportionate number of African-Americans are caught in the grip of homelessness — and we have to be more intentional about how to confront and end this crisis,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This report puts the spotlight where it needs to be, and helps us focus efforts on the individuals, families, and communities that need the most help.”

Among the recommendations is that the county should work to improve data collection, analysis and collaborative research to better understand and track issues affecting black people experiencing homelessness, and to advance racially equitable policies, programs and funding across institutions, homeless service providers, and city and county agencies.

 “Homelessness is the greatest issue facing Los Angeles and racism is amplifying the impacts of economic inequality and housing access,” Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said. “Now is the time to directly address the root causes of homelessness and racism remains one of the biggest causes.”

The full report can be found at https://bit.ly/2tCZflC.

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