INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Homeless rates in Marion County have dropped compared to 2021, but the racial disparities haven’t seen the same improvements, particularly in Black and brown populations.
The widest margin impacts Black, single mothers.
Almost 56% of people experiencing homelessness are Black. Advocates say it’s significantly disproportionate when you compare it to the Marion county population. The data is collected through an annual process called point-In-time count with the hope it’ll help identify red flags and direct resources.
Indianapolis remains a hotbed for people experiencing homelessness, particularly for single, Black female-led households.
“Indianapolis has pretty high disparity within race,” said Chelsea Haring-Cozzi with the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention Prevention.
In 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the homeless population saw a surge. A year later in 2022, a 9% drop in populations living in shelters and a 23% drop in populations living unsheltered. But according to the coalition, it’s not all good news.
“So what we saw this year in particular is not only an increase in families with minor children experiencing homelessness, but when you look at who those families are, again, they are significantly Black families and single-led female households,” Haring-Cozzi said.
The annual point-in-time count identifies people experiencing homelessness but doesn’t explain the how they ended up there. Haring-Cozzi says other supporting data tends to suggest gender gaps in wages and evictions as common causes, especially with more families having had to juggle work and e-learning for their kids.
“Let’s look at why we continue to see this persisting disparity and let’s stop focusing on people. It’s systems. We have systems that are failing people, and particularly Black people, and that is going to take a coordinated effort to really adjust and dismantle those disparities.”
She added that more Indianapolis can do to improve the odds.
The data also shows, for the first time in six years, fewer people older than 62 were experiencing homelessness.