There are an estimated 553,742 people in America that experience homelessness, not including those in poverty and deep poverty. Relating that to Massachusetts, there are an estimated 18,000 homeless people, with approximately 6,000 of them being in Boston. As big of an issue that homelessness is, BC High does their part in aiding those who experience it. Through the Saint Louis Project, started in 2013 by four students, the people of BC High get to experience their issues first hand. The faculty member who runs the project is Mr. Mark, and we were lucky enough to be able to schedule a meeting with him. In this meeting we discussed the demographics of homelessness and the personal experiences he has had.
With the Saint Louis Project based in and around Downtown Crossing, Mr. Mark adds that BC High students deal with a largely African American demographic. As students that participate in St. Louis often, we began to wonder if it was truly just the area we were in or if there was a larger discrepancy between minorities and homelessness throughout America. Upon some research, we found that there is indeed a quite obvious difference. African Americans account for 13% of the American population, yet make up 40% of the homeless population. With that statistic, another question must be asked: why is that so?
During quarantine, Massachusetts was at a 16.4% unemployment rate. Within that, it is reported that Hispanics experience a 60% higher unemployment rate and Blacks experience a 90% higher unemployment rate in respect to that of Whites. With the obvious difference in homelessness rates, the unemployment rates serve as a possible explanation. Although there are many factors to becoming homeless, not having a job is a major issue.
One thing that has recently been implemented within Massachusetts workplaces is something called the diversity quota. The diversity quota requires employers to offer jobs to people of different races to ensure that there is diversity. This reduces the racial discrimination that minorities face when applying for jobs, and also helps minorities gain higher paying positions at certain companies. As a state, we are moving towards an anti-racist society, but a lot more work has to be done.
There is no denying that race is involved when talking about homelessness, and we as a community need to hold the BC High ideal of being anti-racist not only against racism, but acting on it first-hand. We need to be able to hold conversations about race, and how race plays a role in everyday life. Our goal in this article was to share how we found connections between race and homelessness, and how Boston moves forward with helping the situation. The diversity quota is just the surface, for a lot more needs to be done to make a difference.
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