Systematic racism drives Clackamas County homelessness
The Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County joins with many other regional organizations raising our collective voice in solidarity with the movement against systemic racism. As an organization focused on finding solutions to homelessness in our county, we recognize the impact of racism on homelessness and commit to proactive efforts to become more anti-racist as a coalition.
When George Floyd was tragically killed by police on May 25, a movement was sparked in our country. The loss of George Floyd, and the act of violence that took him, was yet another shameful marker in our country's history.
We recognize that this tragedy was not an isolated event, but was instead a continuation of the over 400 years of systemic oppression and violence targeted toward Black and brown bodies in our country. The very foundation of America has been built on legacies of systemic racism which unequivocally prevail today.
The HSCCC also recognizes that racism is a material driver of homelessness, reflected in the vastly disproportionate representation of people of color among those experiencing homelessness in the U.S. Per the 2019 Clackamas County Point in Time Report, in Clackamas County 4% of the unhoused individuals counted identified as Black, while only 1.2% of Clackamas County residents identify as Black. Furthermore, 17% of unhoused individuals counted identified as people of color, while only 7.2% of Clackamas County identify as people of color according to Census data.
As we work to end homelessness, we must also confront the legacies of systemic racism. Homelessness is but one of the outcomes of years of racist policies, inequitable access to employment, educational opportunities, property ownership and housing stability. We acknowledge that finding solutions to homelessness necessarily involves confronting these historic injustices.
The HSCCC thereby commits to the following:
We commit to be willing to engage in the tough and necessary emotional work to understand our privilege and the biases we inherently carry, both as individuals and as a coalition.
We commit to moving beyond the neutral work of inclusion and "color-blindness," but instead to assertively work towards becoming anti-racist as a coalition. For too long, people of color have carried the front-line burden of educating and fighting against racism. As white allies, it is our time to take up this work.
Black lives do matter. The Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County stands with you.
Lynne Deshler is administrator of the Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County.
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