A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Advancing Equity: Homelessness disproportionally affects people of color; everyone deserves a home

Part of a series by NKY’s nonprofits who stand together against racism and any acts that dehumanize people.

By Danielle Amrine
Welcome House of Northern Kentucky

Welcome House of Northern Kentucky, Inc. is a homeless non-profit located at several locations throughout Covington. Founded in 1982, Welcome House has worked to provide a continuum of services to take some of the region’s most vulnerable neighbors from homeless to home.

Many know of Welcome House’s Shelter for Homeless Women and Children, but services are also provided to men, women, and families. For almost 40 years, we have existed in this community to serve and take care of those in need in our community, especially those that have been marginalized and discriminated against.

At a homeless camp in Florence.

We find ourselves in a time where racial inequity has been pushed to the forefront of everyone’s minds. The disparities in our country and our communities are genuinely frightening. Black Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 in America. And the pandemic may also cost many of them their homes.

Compared with white Americans, people of color are disproportionately more likely to hold a low-wage job or a job that cannot be performed remotely. People of color across the United States continue to feel the effects of racist “redlining” housing policies.

Diane Yental, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said it best when she addressed America’s history of racist housing and transportation policies. These redlining, blockbusting, restrictive covenants, restrictive zoning, highway systems built to isolate Black communities – resulted in over-policing and disinvestment in Black and Brown communities. These decades of structural racism created tremendous racial disparities in housing and homelessness. African Americans represent 13 percent of the general population, but are 40 percent of people experiencing homelessness and more than 50 percent of homeless families with children. Black families are 26 percent of all extremely low-income renters.

The housing crisis and its disproportionate harm to low-income people of color deepened over the last several decades; at the same time, Black homeownership declined. The country’s yawning racial wealth gap widened. For most of the 20th century, people of color were denied the federal resources created to help white families become homeowners and build wealth. As a result, the wealth of the median-income white family is 12 times larger than the wealth of the median-income Black family.

In the years ahead, we have aggressive and vital work to do to dismantle racist systems and structures and rebuild them equitably while ensuring that everyone has a safe, affordable, and accessible home. Welcome House is committed to working and building toward an equitable future for all.

We implore you to capitalize on this momentum. One spark, one action, one decision can have a more significant impact than you realize. Change starts with you, and it starts with me. It starts with all of us.

Danielle Amrine is Chief Executive Officer of Welcome House of Northern Kentucky.

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