Monday, Dec. 5 will mark the Tacoma launch of the nationwide 10-city SPARC project, which aims to reduce homelessness in our cities by addressing racial inequity. The concern is that racial prejudice—sometime overt, but more often not—is believed to be a root cause of homelessness.
The SPARC project locally involves Pierce County, the City of Tacoma, and University of Puget Sound’s Race & Pedagogy Institute. The national SPARC partnership of 10 cities will create a network of experts and hands-on practitioners across the country who will conduct research, hold focus groups, do audio histories, and devise new racial equity training and tools for the homelessness systems. The aim is to change attitudes and help reduce homelessness.
Everyone in the community is invited on Monday, Dec. 5, from 6pm to 8:30pm, at Urban Grace Church in Tacoma, for the launch of SPARC and for a conversation on racial equity and homelessness. See the poster below for speakers and details.
BACKGROUND: The think tank behind SPARC, the Massachusetts-based Center for Social Innovation, blames racial discrimination as a key reason for homeless because:
Although African Americans are just 13% of the U.S. population and 26% of those living in poverty, they account for more than 40% of those living in shelters. That suggests that poverty alone is not the driver for homelessness. Racism plays out in all the areas that are key to homelessness: housing, jobs, education, health care, and criminal justice.
In Pierce County the figures show that African Americans make up about 7% of the population, but 27 percent of the homeless population. (source: Pierce County)