Racial Discrimination In Homelessness Can No Longer Be Ignored...

Last week we decided it would be important to dive deeper into racial inequality within homelessness. We learned that Black and Minority Ethnic communities are OVERREPRESENTED in the homeless population all throughout the United States and United Kingdom.

This week we are looking at present day initiatives for change & government policies addressing racial discrimination and homelessness. As we continue to learn we want to use our platform to educate on social injustices and provide ways that we can empower you to help us on the journey to rewrite homelessness.                                                  

 UNITED STATES                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


The reduction of social services, rising house costs and a growing wage gap are among the causes of homelessness and for the longest time the solutions for combating these issues did not address growing racial disparities. One example includes African Americans make up 13 percent of the general population, but more than 40 percent of the homeless population.  It's important to note that the above group is overrepresented meaning they have higher percentages amongst the homeless community compared to their overall population of the US. 

Let's take a look at present day initiatives for change & government policies addressing racial inequality and homelessness. 

INITIATIVES FOR CHANGEInitiatives For Change OutsideIn
National Low Income Housing Coalition

This organisation is dedicated to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. This coalition focuses on passing state bills before congress to make lasting change. Their more recent projects include bridging incomes gaps and rent, in addition to preventing eviction and ending homelessness. 

Eviction Crisis Act - An Act created by the  National Low Income Housing Coalition that establishes a national housing stabilisation fund to help families facing a financial shock avoid eviction. The bill is also supported by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. 

Reframing Homeless Solutions

Each event and project seeks to understand solutions to homelessness through both the deeper causes of, and urgency demanded by, today's homeless crisis in Los Angeles. A wide variety of extraordinary local leaders influence and shape each event and project which work to reframe homelessness solutions through a racial-justice lens. 

Housing Justice LA Podcast - Reframing Homeless Solutions created a podcast that explores how Los Angeles can address the region’s homeless crisis by using a justice framework to develop solutions. A homeless advocate with experience working in government and with nonprofits to address homelessness. 

SPARC Center for Social Innovation

SPARC (Supporting Partnerships for Anti-racist Communities) was launched in 2016 to better understand racial inequalities within homelessness through research and action. It’s to-do list highlights the key domains influencing homelessness for Black and Ethnic Minorities and how to participate in individual action. 

Fair House Act 1964

The Fair Housing Act is often portrayed as complementary to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as it aimed to address entrenched housing segregation.

Practices such as denying people of colour access to insurance or home loan fostered segregation in many areas. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Housing in the United States remains a pressing civil rights issue despite the passage of the law, a generation of politicians from both parties have failed to fully enforce this law.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule 2015

In 2015 the Obama administration saw the importance of the Fair House Act 1964 and decided to issue a new regulation -  The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule 2015. The goal is to provide with more effective means to affirmatively further the purposes and policies of the Fair Housing Act. This involves community development, block grant money, and funding sources used by over 1,300 municipalities across the nation, to engage in a formal review process to make sure new developments weren’t contributing to segregation, and then create their own fair housing goals.

Future Policy Reform 

The U.S. Census Bureau did a study analysing race, affordable housing, and homelessness. Within this study they discuss the future for homelessness policies. Homelessness policy must address housing affordability and residential segregation within America’s urban core if it is going to substantially affect Black homelessness. These findings suggest that the overrepresentation of Blacks in the homeless population may be related to greater housing affordability problems and greater access to homeless services. There must be construction and rehabilitation centres in inner cities, in addition to more equitable spatial distribution of homeless services across different racial communities.

UNITED KINGDOM: UK Flag Homelessness


320,000 people throughout all of the UK were homeless in 2018. Of that number 14% of all homeless households were Black, 9% were Asian, 4% were from a Mixed ethnic background and 4% were from the Other ethnic group; ethnicity wasn't known for 6% of homeless households. Black and Minority Ethnic households, on average, have lower incomes than their white counterparts, with the poverty rate almost twice that for white households, and welfare reforms worsening poverty for these demographics since they are disproportionately affected.

INITIATIVES FOR CHANGE Inequality within homelessness UK
Shelter Housing Advice and Support centre

This project aims to improve access to housing advice for black and ethnic minority groups by working with local communities, specifically those living in the London Boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney. Advice is readily available in locations such as community centres, as well as at the project base in Stratford. Delivering advice in the community not only makes it easier to access, but also increases people’s trust and confidence in the services being offered. The project also employs multilingual housing advisers and access to a translation service is also available for languages not directly supported.

National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy and Skills for Life

This project has allowed for stats and facts to be accumulated for accurate reporting of what's happening in regards to black and minority people within the UK. Skills for Life Trust is doing incredible work by creating jobs and housing for minority groups by teaching them and creating a higher skill and comprehension level.

HACT: Joint Training Programme

One example of joint training involves HACT, the housing action charity. They realised that there was a need for refugees to be able to access housing information and to provide this to their communities. They further saw how front-line staff in housing associations and other housing organisations needed to be educated in order to understand the housing needs and rights of refugees. By involving refugees and housing association and local authority staff, HACT developed a training course that promoted mutual support, relationships and networking between refugee community organisations, housing providers and local authority staff. This course focused on the specific needs and areas of concern relevant to refugees, including racial harassment, mental health issues and the needs of refugee elders (HACT, 2010). For further information, visit: 

UK GOVERNMENT POLICIESUK Policy Inequality Homelessness

The last time the UK government reported on minorities dealing with homelessness was in September of 2005. Many charities, trusts, and organisations have tried to carry the burden of funding and aiding minorities in homelessness while the government has yet to report statistics or address the disproportionate percentages of minorities. It has been quite the struggle to find information on this and has shown us here at OutsideIn the deficit caused by the UK government's lack of reporting and addressing these issues. It has been eye-opening. 

*NOTE: We have realised that the U.K government has implemented very little policy for the Black & Ethnic minority homelessness population. Here is what we could find that deals with homelessness but not necessarily minorities in homelessness:

Primary homelessness legislation

Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 

This legislation provides the statutory under-pinning for action to prevent homelessness and provide assistance to people threatened with or actually homeless. 

Homelessness Act 2002 and the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002

In 2002, the government amended the homelessness legislation to ensure a more strategic approach to tackling and preventing homelessness, in particular by requiring a homelessness strategy for every housing authority district.

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 

This act significantly reformed England’s homelessness legislation by placing duties on local authorities to intervene at earlier stages to prevent homelessness in their areas. It also requires housing authorities to provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who have ‘priority needs’.


Discrimination in homelessness can no longer be ignored.  The more we researched racial inequalities in homelessness the more we found that a lot of these realities stem from systemic injustices. Many of the systems that were created to help people secure housing were not designed for Black and Ethnic Minorities. In educating ourselves we become better allies to the Black and Ethnic Minority communities facing this reality. Our hope in sharing this information is it sparks something inside of you to seek change. We want to keep ourselves and others accountable in stepping up to fight racial disparities. We encourage you to continue joining us on our journey!

Click here for the sources for this blog!!

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