Racial Analysis within Homelessness

By Patricia Patton

It was a chilly crisp morning as I walked to the bus stop on my way to work.

Almost daily after I arrive and secure my space to wait, I am confronted by a frumpily dressed white male asking for money to buy him a cup of coffee.

My feelings are mixed: should I give him something or should I, as so many others do, dismiss him? Should I reply with the standard response, “why don’t you get a job?”

While I often comply by giving them a dollar or two, long after my act of generosity the questions in my head remain.

Why am I helping a white male? I mean, given their gender and race, they run the world; the sky’s the limit. I wonder do they know the power they possess?

The question inspired me to look further into the challenges this population faces, so I did some research and found that according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness there are currently 10,095 homeless people across the state of Ohio. In addition, Take Away, a public radio program, states that African Americans comprise 12.6 percent of the population, yet 40 percent are classified as homeless.

Furthermore, Dr. Marion Moser Jones, a professor with the University of Maryland School of Public Health who has studied the homeless from 1985-2015, states that the causes of homelessness between the two races differ. For blacks discrimination, social isolation, and drug abuse could factor. While for whites homelessness is usually due to or is the result of mental illness, disability, and alcohol abuse.

Also factor in a limited availability of housing for blacks and economic inequalities in general.

While both races share the devastating reality of homelessness the reasons and or causes of the condition veer.

Black woman who become homeless are usually more likely to have experienced sexual abuse, while white women are more likely to be victims of physical abuse. Blacks are more likely to have experienced poverty in childhood, while white homeless adults experienced varying forms of abuse coming up.

In conclusion, these studies suggests that non-profit agencies designed to help the homeless should not only think about providing housing for them, but look into the array of cultural differences, and needs that contribute to this chronic condition.

I believe that with this in mind we will inspire long lasting change and hence diminish the chance of homelessness from recurring again and again.

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