Dallas Committee To Be Briefed on Race, Homelessness Report

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Members on a Dallas committee will be briefed Monday morning on a report focused on race and homelessness.

The SPARC report analyzed the homeless re-housing system in Dallas and Collin counties and examined who is experiencing homelessness.

Nissy New, Vice President of Operations for the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, said data was collected from 2011 to 2016. According to the alliance, there were roughly 4,471 people in Dallas experiencing some form of homelessness in January 2020.

“What’s their race? What are the barriers that they have? What led them into homelessness? What is the solution to ending homelessness?” New said, referring to the questions the report sought to answer. “The biggest takeaway is that African-Americans by far suffer from homelessness than any other race and ethnicity.”

Credit: Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance

The report states, “though the Black population in Dallas constitutes 18.7% of the general population, this group is overrepresented among those living in deep poverty (30.7%) and among people experiencing homelessness (66.7%). The disparity between the percentage in poverty and those experiencing homelessness suggests that poverty alone does not explain the overrepresentation of Black people in the population experiencing homelessness.”

The report added, “the other hand, Whites constitute 63.2% of the general population but are slightly underrepresented in the deep poverty group (49.5%) and drastically underrepresented among the homeless population (29.8%)”.

New said the report has been instrumental in their efforts to bring racial equity into the system of homelessness.

“The reason of that [disparity in homelessness] is racism. Systemic racism that individuals have been subjected to for hundreds and hundreds of years have led us to where we are now where majority of people who are experiencing homelessness are Black,” she told NBC 5 Saturday. “Racism is the cause of homelessness. A person doesn’t just fall into homelessness. It doesn’t just happen in the absence of a vacuum. It is years of disinvestment in their communities. It’s the lack of economic mobility. It’s the lack of quality education. Lack of food resources, healthy food resources. All of that drives into what homelessness is today.”

The report listed several recommendations including collaborations to increase affordable housing availability for all people experiencing homelessness. Affordable housing is something the city is lacking, according to Dr. David Woody with the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.

“Our city council can help with that. They can help us facilitate, expanding for the community. It’s not just for the homeless. It’s for the community – more affordable housing,” Dr. Woody said. “Right now, I have difficulty. Our campus has difficulty creating a flow of folks coming off the street into a supportive experience and exiting our campus.”

Findings from the report will be presented Monday morning to the City of Dallas Housing and Homeless Solutions Committee, which is chaired by District 3 councilmember Casey Thomas.

“The report lays out the facts. It paints the picture for many who may not be aware of what it is,” Councilman Thomas said. “There are a variety of reasons that people are homeless and we need to begin looking at those. We need to begin as a city taking action to address that in a racially equitable point of view.”

Thomas said he plans to request a racial equity audit of the Dallas’ comprehensive housing policy and the Office of Homeless Solutions as his first order as chair of the committee. 

“Under the previous council, we voted in resolution 15-O on racial equity. It’s time for us to look at all our practices and policies and how we go about doing things in housing,” Thomas told NBC 5. “It’s critically important, as well as how we provide services to those who are suffering with homelessness.”

The briefing will available to be streamed online. It begins at 9 a.m.

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