Black people make up 13 percent of the United States population yet accounted for 40 percent of the homeless population in America last year.
In the annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, put out by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency, Blacks made up 40 percent of the estimated 568,000 homeless Americans in 2019, according to ABC News. The total homeless population was 553,000 in 2018.
And there was an even greater racial disparity among homeless people with children, with Black people making up 52 percent of that demographic versus roughly 35 percent among whites, the report outlined.
“African Americans have remained considerably overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population,” ABC News quotes from the report. “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.”
By comparison, white Americans make up 77 percent of the U.S. population and about 48 percent of the estimated homeless population. And Latino people account for 22 percent of all homeless people and roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population.
The report uses a “Point-In-Time” methodology that estimates overall homelessness by looking at a single night in January 2019.
Activists say they sadly aren’t surprised with the dismal figures, particularly if you take into account the long-term impact of racial discrimination within several key systems in the United States, including housing, criminal justice, and health care, according to ABC News.
“This year’s report is as an urgent call to action to federal, state, and local leaders,” Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, said in a statement to ABC News about the report’s findings. “Now is not the time to abandon the practices that drove those results. Now is the time to get serious about funding them to scale.”
Poverty is linked to homelessness, and Black families are more likely than white families to experience poverty, according to Roman’s organization which cited that 21 percent of Black American live in poverty, which is 2.5 times higher than white people experiencing poverty.
“This isn’t the fault of the homelessness sector, and it is not the fault of people experiencing homelessness,” Roman said in the statement. “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.”