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Who Are the Homeless? Centering Anti-Black Racism and the Consequences of Colorblind Homeless Policies

School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Academic Editor: Michele Wakin
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(9), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090340
Received: 18 July 2021 / Revised: 25 August 2021 / Accepted: 2 September 2021 / Published: 13 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Crisis of Homelessness)
Since first becoming a major social issue in the 1980s, homelessness has been a racialized problem in the United States. Its disproportionate impact on Black Americans is primarily driven by structural racism and the limited housing and employment opportunities for Black Americans. The first major federal legislation to address the needs of the United States’ homeless population—the Stewart B. McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 omitted the root causes of Black housing instability, thereby proving ineffective at mitigating Black homelessness. As a result, Black Americans remain disproportionately impacted today. In addition to being neglected by the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Black men and women experiencing homelessness are more likely to be discriminated against than any other racial group. For example, Black men are more likely to be arrested than anyone else, and Black women are the most likely to experience hyper-surveillance. This paper uses the Public Identity Framework to argue that in the 1980s, advocates and opponents of homeless legislation created two contradictory public personas to shape public discourse and policies for the homeless. A colorblind public persona was used to pass the McKinney–Vento Homeless Act; meanwhile, the public persona of the “underclass” was used to criminalize and shame the homeless. Both personas operated concurrently to create a dual public identity for the homeless that influenced policy and ultimately harmed Black people. View Full-Text
Keywords: homelessness; McKinney–Vento; homeless policy; public identity; black homelessness homelessness; McKinney–Vento; homeless policy; public identity; black homelessness
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MDPI and ACS Style

Edwards, E.J. Who Are the Homeless? Centering Anti-Black Racism and the Consequences of Colorblind Homeless Policies. Soc. Sci. 2021, 10, 340. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090340

AMA Style

Edwards EJ. Who Are the Homeless? Centering Anti-Black Racism and the Consequences of Colorblind Homeless Policies. Social Sciences. 2021; 10(9):340. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090340

Chicago/Turabian Style

Edwards, Earl J. 2021. "Who Are the Homeless? Centering Anti-Black Racism and the Consequences of Colorblind Homeless Policies" Social Sciences 10, no. 9: 340. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10090340

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