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Homelessness Among Black Population in California

Homelessness affects all demographic groups in Los Angeles, but black Angelenos are over-represented by a factor of four.

Did you know that although black people comprise approximately 8-9% of L.A. County's population, 34% of those experiencing homelessness self-identify as black. That's because of the unique barriers black Americans (and Latinos) face.

Homelessness Among Black Population in California

Black people are disproportionately homeless in California. A recent homeless census carried out nationally shows that black people are greatly over-represented in the homeless population across the United States. ​ Across the state, the U.S. Census shows about 6.5% of Californians identify as black or African American, but they account for nearly 40% of the state’s homeless, according to a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report to Congress. Nationally, black people account for 13.4% of the population but are 39.8% of the homeless population. ​ Felony records, stagnant wages and a rising housing crisis combined with policies that exclude or punish marginalized groups can ensnare vulnerable black people in homelessness. Even without felony records, black people face more difficulties finding employment and housing than other races or ethnicities, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) demonstrated in a recent report. ​ The NFHA found that even after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 legally outlawed denying people housing based on race after redlining and exclusionary zoning targeted people of color, black people still face housing discrimination. Another analysis of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data evidenced that black people are charged higher fees and rates than white borrowers, and are routinely denied mortgage loan applications at a much higher rate than white applicants.

Black Angelenos Are Four Times More Likely To Be Homeless Than Others

​​A September 2019 report from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) indicates institutional racism plays a large role in the extreme over-representation of homelessness of all people of color. “Black people are more likely than White people to experience homelessness in the United States, including in Los Angeles County,” the report says. “The impact of institutional and structural racism in education, criminal justice, housing, employment, healthcare, and access to opportunities cannot be denied: homelessness is another by-product of racism in America.”

Black Population Is Not Alone When It Comes to Homelessness. Latino Homelessness is Also Surging Fast

The Latino homeless community is one of the most vulnerable populations in Los Angeles that is often in the shadows and has not been a priority for many years. Latinos make up 48 percent of Los Angeles County’s population and 35 percent of the homeless population. Research and literature around homelessness finds that Latinos are likely to be undercounted in homeless counts because they ...

  • rely on social networks rather than homeless services,

  • are more likely to live in unstable and overcrowded households, and

  • will settle in remote areas that are hard for service workers to reach when living on the streets .

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