Homelessness is an intersectional, multi-pronged issue tied to and exacerbated by centuries of discriminatory housing policies and practices. As such, the most effective solutions to homelessness must tackle system inequities at their roots. Ultimately, centering anti-racism work is essential to truly undoing the disproportionate harm communities of color (especially Black and Indigenous communities) have experienced. In the medium term, policy advocacy and research can help homeless systems of care improve their practices on a structural level. On a community level, political buy-in and community collaboration are key to ensuring a system of care’s success.
Center Racial Equity and Systems Change
Racial Equity Action Lab (REAL)
Homebase and BARHII spearheaded a regional Racial Equity Action Lab (REAL) to aid communities across the Bay Area to address fundamental racial disparities within their homeless systems of care. The goals of the Action Lab are to reduce locally-identified racial and ethnic inequities within homelessness response system, as well as to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and COVID risks among people who are unhoused – especially the disproportionate number of Black people who are homeless across the Bay Area. In partnership with All Home and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the REAL team hosted six sessions from October 2020 to April 2021, covering topics such as “Identifying Racial Disparities: Data Driven Interventions” and “Leadership for Racial Equity,” centering the lived expertise of those most impacted.
Centering Race and Equity in Homeless System Design
In Alameda County, the Oakland-Berkeley-Alameda County California CoC saw a 43% increase in homelessness in the region. The steep increase led them to undertake a system modeling process through a racial equity lens, with the “goal of producing a homeless system that works better for all to end homelessness in Alameda County.” They looked not only at data on race in the homeless system itself, but also on historical and structural racism across multiple systems. As a result of their deep analysis, Centering Race and Equity in Homeless System Design, the CoC identified system strategies to advance equity in their homeless system of care, including disaggregating homeless outcomes by race.
The Bay Area Homelessness Funders Network
The Bay Area Homelessness Funders Network, a partnership between Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and Funders Together to End Homelessness, aligns philanthropy to advance racial equity and regional coordination in preventing and ending homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Francisco has championed the Local and Regional Government Alliance on Race & Equity as a toolkit for answering policy questions with a racial equity framework. The program has two objectives: 1) advise City departments on how to eliminate disparities in public service, and 3) ensure community involvement in the full range of government decisions.
Marin County’s Office of Equity has a Racial Equity Planning Committee that conducts in-house racial disparity analysis and hosts a “Community at the Table: Leading with Anti-Racism Speaker Series.”
Policy and Advocacy
Partnership for the Bay’s Future
The Partnership for the Bay’s Future has a Policy Fund which supports local jurisdictions in passing and implementing policies that will protect tenants and preserve and produce housing. This includes:
- Challenge Grants for Protection and Preservation: These grants focus on protecting renters and preserving existing affordable housing. The Challenge Grant program provides additional capacity and expertise to grantee local governments.
- Breakthrough Grants for Production and Preservation: Jurisdictions that have the potential to develop affordable housing at scale will be awarded grants and technical assistance, and convened to collaborate and learn together on shared challenges.
The University of California San Francisco
The University of California San Francisco’s Benioff Homeless and Housing Initiative (BHHI) is committed to working to advance evidence-based solutions through research, policy, and education.
Bay Area Council
The Bay Area Council’s Committee on Homelessness works with Bay Area leaders from government, business, and the nonprofit sector to influence policies that impact housing and homelessness.
Tipping Point Community
The Tipping Point Community takes a collaborative approach between philanthropy, nonprofit service providers, local governments, and people with lived experience of homelessness to address issues of homelessness. They have supported legislation around youth homelessness (SB 918), youth with disabilities (AB 2337), technical assistance for families (SB 1083), and zoning in San Francisco (SALI legislation).
California Policy Lab
Terner Center for Housing Innovation
The University of California Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation develops data driven and evidence-based solutions that address home affordability, sustainable neighborhoods, inclusive communities, and housing innovations.
The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority
The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority is a shared initiative of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), in partnership with cities and counties, to address the Bay Area’s chronic housing affordability challenges.