Community advocates from California, Ohio and Texas share their methods of success to cure homelessness
In this Black Headline News Live episode, news anchor, Julia Dudley Najieb, reviews the solutions a few cities and counties across the nations are using to decrease homelessness dramatically in this Part 1: Homelessness, replicating solutions that have been proven to work broadcast.
From an Ethnic Media Service briefing last month, Dudley Najieb shared the excerpts of a few success stories of these almost "functional zero" homelessness cities and counties. Community advocates, Mary Scott who is located in Bakersfield, Calif., and Marcus Salter, who is a part of several nonprofits in Columbus, Ohio, spoke about how their organizations achieved significant decreases in homeless residents.
The data on homelessness vulnerabilities for Black people is dismal: Endhomelessness.org reports that the most striking disparity can be found among African Americans, who represent 13 percent of the general population but account for 39 percent of people experiencing homelessness and more than 50 percent of homeless families with children. This imbalance has not improved over time.
Poverty, and particularly deep poverty, is a strong predictor of homelessness. Black and Latinx groups are overrepresented in poverty relative to their representation in the overall population, and are most likely to live in deep poverty, with rates of 10.8% and 7.6% percent, respectively.
The report continued, redlining – systemic housing discrimination supported by the federal government decades ago – is a root cause of the current wealth gap between White households and households of color. Redlining discouraged economic investment, such as mortgage and business loans, in Black and Brown neighborhoods.
The report also stated:
The effects are still with us today: African Americans still live disproportionately in concentrated poverty or in neighborhoods where they are regularly exposed to environmental toxins and have limited access to quality care, services, nutritious food and economic opportunities. People that become homeless are likely to have lived in these types of neighborhoods.
In part 1 of this BHN special report, two community homelessness prevention advocate experts featured in this broadcast both purported that it was a total community effort that took more than just collaboration, it was about communication: Mary Scott said Bakersfield achieved its "functional zero" homelessness by 2020 through taking it on as a "community issue," educating residents by demystifying the stereotypes of homeless people being considered mentally insane or as criminally adept. Marcus Salter said they had to change the narrative of "resource rich, but connection poor." City and county departments working with community organizations all had to be on the same page, meeting families where they are, providing targeted services for immediate needs.
Mary Scott serves as an Executive Team Leader of the Open Door Network (formerly Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.) During her tenure, she has been responsible for the program design and development of the various aftercare case management programs and expansion of the housing programs of The Open Door Network. She has participated in the Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative Committees (BKRHC) for the past eight years partnering with community organizations that are working with the homeless population. Mary was a part of the team in Bakersfield, CA that reached functional zero for chronic homelessness in 2020. Mary Scott is recognized as a Black Leader in the movement to end homelessness in Kern County.
Marcus J. Salter has over 20 years of experience as an At-Risk Youth Counselor, Youth Outreach Worker and
Homelessness Prevention. His past experiences include
serving as the Managing Director of United Men in Recovery Inc./Pathway Housing, a program that provided housing and support services to men seeking recovery; Navigator Team Lead at Access Ohio to assist with the implementation of the new Navigator Program launched Oct 1, 2014-throughout the homeless system in Columbus Ohio, creating opportunities to positively impact the lives of individuals experiencing Homelessness while moving them successfully into affordable Housing. Today, Marcus is employed with Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio as a Housing Stability Specialist. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and is the founder of Keys to Successful Housing, a program to educate and empower vulnerable Youth and Adult populations by providing them with the necessary tools to build successful and stable housing experiences.