community conversations

Community Conversations: Race, Racism and Homelessness

Systemic racism has a major effect on the racial makeup of Dallas' homeless population

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Homelessness has been a growing issue in Dallas county for years.

But what’s just as alarming are the numbers showing a racial disparity.

There are more homeless African-Americans in Dallas than any other race.

To find out why, we spoke to Dr. David Woody, president and CEO of The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center in Dallas and David Gruber of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

Click the video player above to watch the full conversation with NBC 5's Alanna Quillen.

Both speakers discuss the cause in such disparities and what is being done locally to solve the problem.

"That statistic is reflection of what’s going on in our larger society," said Dr. Woody.

At The Bridge, over 60% of guests are African-American, which is nearly a mirror image of the statistics seen on Dallas streets year and year.

"So it’s no secret that these significant numbers of African-Americans who may spill over into homelessness are because of a lack of resources in the communities, poor educational experiences that they have encountered for several years, the family dynamics, and trauma. Neighborhoods which lack resources experience. Those are just two or three of the very specific things that then leave individuals with not a lot of options," Dr. Woody explained.

Systemic racism has become a big topic in 2020 but he said this is something that homelessness groups have observed for years -- the burdens within African-American communities that then eventually lead to homelessness.

"In cities like Dallas, it’s an emergency," said Gruber. "Really what it boils down to is there are systems in place. In 2020 we’re having this conversation but this is not new information…It’s all the systems that have been created in our society going on 400 plus years that have brought us to where we are."

This discussion with NBC 5 follows more dialogue that has been taking place between crucial groups that are working to end homelessness in Dallas and dissolve the racial divide between communities.

Every week, Dallas Truth Racial Healing and Transformation hosts an online series called Transformation Tuesday, a community-driven online series that highlights the ways race and racism impact every aspect of people's lives, and what the community can do to change and transform it.

The group teamed up with MDHA last week for a special virtual conversation to address racial disparities in homelessness.

The second part of this virtual conversation is planned for sometime in November. Follow the MDHA Facebook page for more information.

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