Homelessness is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to poverty. It is the sharply visible peak atop a crisis of inequity which keeps not only housing but many other basic resources out of reach for millions of Americans, like education, healthcare, employment, adequate income – not to mention safe and healthy neighborhoods. We know that these longstanding inequities are the ruins of our past and the defects of our present structural racism and economic discrimination. Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is illuminating and exacerbating these deep racial and socioeconomic disparities in the United States.
In Washington D.C., the statistics speak for themselves. Here’s a snapshot of the 2021 “point-in-time” count:
- In total, 5,111 people were counted in the 2021 PIT Count, with a 4.3% increase in unsheltered individuals in D.C. since the 2020 PIT count
- 50% of those individuals have experienced chronic homelessness
- African-Americans make up 86.5% of D.C.’s homeless population but only 46% of D.C.’s overall population
- 26% of the approximately 5,111 homeless people were women
- The median age of homeless individuals in D.C. is 52 years old
- 32% of homeless individuals have challenges relating to mental health
- D.C. has lost 50% of all affordable housing in the past decade
Here at N Street Village, these statistics do not surprise us. We see this lived out every day where 80% of our clients are African American, 53% are over the age of 50, and half have no income when they arrive at our door.
N Street Village was born out of civil unrest as the 14th Street Corridor burned following the assassination of Dr. King. The city was battling a drug epidemic and poverty was drawing a racial line down the middle of our nation’s capital.
Just as we responded to that moment, the Village is prepared to respond to a similar moment nearly 50 years later. We are a community of strength and resilience and together we will begin to redesign flawed infrastructure, stand with our neighbors, and work to build a more inclusive world.
As we work to redesign from here, we will stay focused on these four guiding principles:
1. The voice of those affected will lead in the creation of solutions
2. Racial justice will be the prize on which we set our eye
3. Economic justice for all residents of DC will be our ultimate achievement
4. The collective investment and accountability of all stakeholders will be our strategy for fast and effective impact
Together with you, we will continue our work to be an anti-racist community and to share our values and vision with the world around us.
*Source: 2021 Point-In-Time Count