By President & CEO Kevin Lindamood
It’s no surprise that the greatest burdens of a global pandemic fall on Black and Brown people. American public health crises, including homelessness, have always hurt these communities hardest. Racism was woven into our public policies and institutions well before the knee of law enforcement launched a national reawakening to it.
White people like me are disproportionately represented among those who are healthy and housed. We are less likely to die prematurely. When compared with Black and Brown people, whites endure far less violence and jail time, earn higher wages, and have many more options for where we live and work.
Health Care for the Homeless is similar to the vast majority of American non-profits: Our administrative and clinical leadership is primarily white, while most of the people we serve (85%) and the staff who work with them (64%) are Black and Brown. Our systems and structures, created primarily by white leaders, are fundamentally flawed. We must evaluate, redesign and reimagine them.
Earlier this year, we at Health Care for the Homeless promised you, our community, to pursue racial equity and inclusion in all we do—from clinical care to culture and operations. This is not the work of a month or a year, but rather a reorientation that will make us a better, more effective organization and further our mission to end homelessness.
We have begun this work in earnest. Hold us accountable. In addition to the service and advocacy you make possible, you should expect to see clear evidence of our racial equity work in the months and years ahead. We are committing time and resources to ensure that our efforts will succeed. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Join me on the journey. Read, study, listen and commit to the hard work needed to build a just society. Engage with others through our Community of Practice discussions and Facebook group.
Some have asked if a strategic commitment to racial equity is a departure from our mission. I last fielded inquiries like this three years ago when the agency pledged to build housing for those we serve. The questions are interrelated, the answers the same: Racial equity, like affordable housing, is a fulfillment of our mission. We’ll never end homelessness without achieving both.
Learn more about our REI work