LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new Los Angeles County report has determined that racism and discrimination are key factors in the elevated levels of homelessness among black Angelenos.
The report by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that black people make up nine percent of the county population, but account for nearly 40 percent of its homeless population.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was among more than 100 county, city and community leaders gathered who gathered Monday morning to discuss the report at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park.
“This report is a critical first step to address the collective failings of systems and institutions that — de facto and de jure — have been designed to deliver the painful disparities that affect so many of our brothers and sisters,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Hard work lies ahead to counter this tragic inheritance. If our region is to prosper, it is not only a moral imperative, it is an absolute economic imperative that all who call Los Angeles home are able to attain their full measure of dignity and self-worth.”
Data cited in the report points to disparities in rent prices and home ownership rates between blacks and whites in L.A. County as indications of what the committee says are some of the “most segregated metropolitan areas in the United States.”
The committee also cited a 2016 report that found white households in L.A. have a median net worth of $355,000, compared to just $3,500 for black households.
“Institutional and structural racism impact Black people experiencing homelessness on a daily, life-long basis, from renting an apartment, to seeking employment, to the trauma of living in an anti-Black society”, according to the committee’s report.
In addition to home ownership and rents, the report also cites disparities in county income levels, citing one study that found 30 percent of all black full-time workers in L.A. County were low-wage workers who earned less than $13.49 per hour. The median wage in the county is $20.24.
Black households countywide were also found to have the lowest median income and were more likely to live in poverty than any other racial group, according to the report.
But City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said racism was one of the “root causes of homelessness” in the black community.
“Homelessness is the greatest issue facing Los Angeles and racism is amplifying the impacts of economic inequality and housing access,” Harris-Dawson said. “Now is the time to directly address the root causes of homelessness and racism remains one of the biggest causes.”