Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and LGTBQ+ folx disproportionately experience homelessness. If we’re truly serious about ending homelessness, we must be equally serious about ending the systemic racism and discrimination against LGBTQ+ folx that lead to this inequity.
Often, racial and LGBTQ+ equity are perceived as “extra work” that we do in addition to the “real work” of ending homelessness. We believe that equity IS the work, and that we cannot end homelessness without it. To ensure equity is an action embedded in all our values, practices, and programs, we’ve woven equity milestones into the Anchor Community Initiative work plan. We cannot say the work is complete without accomplishing them. Here are the elements of our equity plan:
Last year, we defined what ending homelessness means to us. The Anchor Community Initiative is driving towards functional zero, a state where communities have the capacity to house every actively homeless, unaccompanied young person. We decided that for us, ending homelessness also means examining housing placements, returns to homelessness, and length of time experiencing homelessness for young BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folx, and ensuring their outcomes in these measures are equitable.
Education and Optimization
This year, Anchor Communities are implementing projects to reduce the number of unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. For these projects to truly drive towards ending homelessness, they also need to drive towards equitable outcomes for young BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folx. To make sure improvement projects are aligned with equity outcomes, we are:
- Enhancing youth leadership in Anchor Community teams by developing partnerships with youth advisory groups that will design and select improvement projects.
- Establishing race and LGBTQ+ equity competencies to ensure every team member is equipped to embed equity outcomes into improvement projects.
- Coaching communities to set goals around identifying and ending disproportionality in their systems.
- Improving the collection of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) data to reduce the number of young people on the By-Name List with this information listed as “unknown.”
In our vision for 2021 and beyond, every improvement project will directly lead to equity outcomes. That means every project will lead to greater housing placements, reduced returns to homelessness, or less time experiencing homelessness for young BIPOC or LGBTQ+ folx. Teams will have reliable data to measure these outcomes, including quality SOGIE data for young people on the By-Name List. And Anchor Community teams will have strong relationships with youth advisory groups guiding the direction of projects. With all these elements in place, we’ll be on our way to truly end youth and young adult homelessness!