June 19th, Juneteenth, offers us an opportunity to commemorate the day in 1863 when slaves in Texas were granted their freedom. Despite the passage of nearly 170 years, people of color in America continue to confront systemic barriers—the racial wealth gap and a long-standing history of housing discrimination are among the enduring challenges faced by people of color in America today.
In this bustling city with a scarcity of affordable housing, homelessness disproportionately impacts individuals from marginalized communities. In NYC, approximately 95% of individuals experiencing homelessness in shelters identify as people of color.
Women and children of color, already burdened by the scars of domestic violence, overcrowding, and evictions, are left particularly vulnerable. The economic trauma caused by homelessness can entrap families in a vicious cycle of poverty that spans generations.
When a family loses their home and is plunged into homelessness, the ramifications are cumulative. The immediate stress and trauma associated with displacement can have significant repercussions, disrupting work and school routines, especially when families are relocated far from their home neighborhoods. Consequently, less than half of all children who find themselves in shelters manage to graduate from high school, setting them on a trajectory of poverty that heightens their risk of experiencing homelessness as adults, perpetuating the cycle within their own families.
At The Partnership to End Homelessness, we are ending homelessness by preventing it. Prevention is more humanitarian and cost effective than allowing families to lose their homes. As we recognize Juneteenth, let us view this day not only as an occasion for remembrance but as a catalyst for action—a springboard for tangible and transformative change.
By forging partnerships and working collaboratively, we can tackle the root causes of homelessness and dismantle the systemic barriers that perpetuate inequality.