(NAEH) Homelessness Funding is a Racial Equity Issue
George Floyd was laid to rest yesterday next to his mother. Through massive protests and renewed calls for racial justice, the two weeks that preceded his funeral have reawakened a spirit of conscience in our nation.
As we honor Floyd's memory, we also remember Charly "Africa" Keunang of Skid Row and Brandon Glenn of Venice Beach who were homeless at the time of their deaths – unarmed black men who died at the hands of police. The criminalization of homelessness has placed many of our neighbors in harm's way, their lives constantly interrupted by law enforcement while living in public spaces. Racial disparities make homelessness more prevalent for black people, just as systemic racism accounts for lower levels of household wealth, higher risk of coronavirus, and so many other disparities.
These inequalities have life-and-death consequences in our society. We must demand that elected leaders not only speak out against injustice, but that their expressions of support translate into new laws and budget priorities. It is not enough to condemn what is wrong in the world today. We require action.
And this action can help to remedy racial disparities in homelessness. For months now, the Alliance and homeless advocates like you have been urging Congress to fund homeless assistance and emergency rental subsidies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We know that Black and Brown people are more likely to contract COVID-19 due to systemic racism, and are also more likely to experience homelessness: more funding for homelessness as a result of COVID-19 is a racial equity issue. More lives will be lost to COVID-19 if we do not bring vulnerable people off the streets. Millions of renters are also at risk of losing their housing in this severe recession. If we want to continue to work towards racial equity, homelessness funding must be part of the solution.
In response to your advocacy, the House of Representatives has included homeless and housing resources in its relief bill. Yet the Senate has delayed action much longer than anyone expected, given the scale of this national emergency. If the past two weeks has taught us anything, it is that America has abided injustice too long and is tired of waiting for elected leaders to do the right thing.
We need the Senate to act now. Please take a moment to make your voice heard today.