Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today the face of homelessness in America is this: a black man, around 40 years old, living in a large urban city. The Invisible Men series are artful, experimental snapshots into the lives of two formerly homeless men in New York City. Here Andrew, a formerly homeless man, who lost his mobility from frostbite on the streets, ponders the strife that preceded his current home. How does AndrewÕs story spark a fruitful national conversation on this issue?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Homelessness: A Challenge to African American Males

Homelessness: A Challenge to African American Males Book Description

Homelessness: A Challenge to African American Males analyzes the situation surrounding homeless African American males living in the inner city. Author Charles Orr's research is led by the question? How does the lack of employment affect the ability of homeless men to effectively contribute to society?? This review is an analysis of other works published on this topic. In order to identify the factors that make African American males the largest homeless population group, Orr relies on history and other related scholarly sources to highlight his study. The author observes that both the lack of equal opportunity coupled with the inability to work regularly contributes significantly to homelessness among African American males.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Introduction to the Literature on Homelessness

Homeless black men were not given much attention in the past review (Gordon, Gordon, & Nembhard, 1994). Homelessness is a gendered phenomenon, with an estimated 80–90% of the indigent population being male (Baker, 1994). An estimated 49% of the homeless population in the U.S. is African American; therefore, the concerns of homeless black men must not be overlooked because there is a strong association between employment and homelessness for African American men. Scholars attribute the rise in homelessness to a number of structural economic and geographical shifts. The movement of skilled “blue collar” labor from central cities to suburbs and other nations represents a shift to a service-oriented economy in the United States, caused largely by deindustrialization, and has impelled a rise in poverty levels (Molina,2000). The reclamation and gentrification of low-cost housing by businesses and people has lead to a decline of 2.5 million low-income housing units between 1980 and 1988 (National Academy of Sciences, 1988 as cited in Baker, 1994) and the displacement of residents from their neighborhoods. The long-term effects of Reagan-era cuts to public housing and domestic welfare programs are unfolding yielding low levels of supply in affordable housing (National Housing institute, 1992, as cited in Molina, 2000). The decline in affordable low-cost housing during the 1980s was particularly devastating to African Americans, who represented close to half of those living in such units (Baker, 1994).

Future Research Directions: Incarceration and Juvenile Justice

􀂾 Strategies to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline should be research-based.

􀂾 The ways black men have been constructed as targets of pubic policy should be


􀂾 Rehabilitation options in community-based programs for youth offenders should be


􀂾 An audit should be conducted of private correctional institutions to determine the

physical conditions of the inmate population and the effectiveness of inmate

rehabilitation programs in these institutions.

􀂾 The positive impact of drug courts should be studied.

a. Risk Factors Among Homeless African American Men

The social isolation experienced by homeless men has a number of damaging effects on their health and well-being. Several studies identified an increased risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS among the homeless. Minorities, who constitute a large percentage of the homeless, are the fastest growing population of HIV-positive cases, a phenomenon researchers ascribe to lack of cultural sensitivity among safe sex campaigns and a disproportionate lack of healthcare (Stephens, Braithwaite, Lubin, Carn, & Colbert, 2000). High levels of HIV/AIDS vulnerability among the homeless are attributable to unsafe sexual practices, often caused by the conditions of poverty. Homeless commercial sex workers reported that they were more likely to engage in higher risk sexual activity when homeless and/or hungry. African American homeless men reported willingness to trade sex for money or drugs at the rate of 44% (Song, 1997), a number the researchers felt may have been underestimated due to the self-reported nature of the study. Other studies on risk factors for homeless black men have focused on depression and substance abuse (Beck, 1999, 2001 & Bolger et al., as cited in Littrell and Beck, 2001; Dixon, 1997).

Policy Recommendations

􀂙 Molina (2000) suggests a national policy dealing with the problem of homelessness, first and foremost creating new low cost housing and providing subsidies for low-income

single men and women to provide short term assistance while readying impoverished individuals to find new jobs.

􀂙 Littrell and Beck (2001) suggest treating depressive symptoms in the homeless, identifying and addressing causes of depression and encouraging problem-focused coping to encourage faster transitioning from homelessness.

􀂙 As previously mentioned, the attitudes and beliefs of the homeless populations may not translate to safe sexual practices (Song, et al. 1997). Kalichman and colleagues (1998) suggest that HIV risk reduction techniques should be integrated into substance abuse treatment programs.

􀂙 Community services and assisted living should be made available for black homeless men.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Study: Black Men Comprise Large Percentage of Nearly 800,000 Homeless in America

New Study: Black Men Comprise Large Percentage of Nearly 800,000 Homeless in America

Sunday, March 11, 2007
Danielle Kwateng, Howard University News Service

In an unprecedented new study, an estimated 754,000 people are homeless across the United States -- and many of them are black, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"We find most of these homeless people are men and, disproportionately, a large amount are black," Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for HUD, told

The new HUD study showed that 65 percent of homeless adults are male, and 45 percent of those sheltered homeless people are African-Americans. Today, a visual face on homelessness in America is this: A black man, around 40 years old, living in a large, urban city.

HUD officials said they surveyed more than 3,800 cities and counties, marking the first time a national study attempts to pinpoint an exact number of homeless people.

The innovative new system, titled the Homeless Management Information Systems, quantifies an accurate amount of people based on current trends and prospective numbers, officials said. These reports tell the authorities, advocacy groups and the general public a lot about the current state of this country.

"The report is a powerful tool to help all of us at the federal, state and local level design more effective responses to homelessness and better help those who are living in shelters and on our streets", Alphonso Jackson, secretary of HUD, said in a statement.

Tom Hohman, a managing director at Bethesda Cares, Inc., a nonprofit homeless shelter in Maryland, told that HUD’s figures may underestimate the nation’s homeless population, but they're close.

"There are 1,600 homeless people in Montgomery County alone, and this is an affluent community," Hohman said in an interview. "There’s probably more [homeless in the U.S.], because sometimes they show up here and come from out of the woods, abandoned apartment complexes, and other places," he said.

In Maryland, Hohman said, his agency does what it can with the resources provided.

"We serve lunch to 45 to 50 people a day," he said. "We have a clothing shelter for them to get clothes. We also have two ladies that give people help with anything from finding a home to getting their visas. We help with all sorts of problems they face."

Sullivan said the HUD study is groundbreaking.

"This study is the first of its kind," Sullivan said in an interview. "It allows us to have a critical starting point in understanding where we go from here. It answers core questions about how many homeless people there are, who they are. Is it situation temporary or situational? Do they have a chronic condition?"

Many get confused at what constitutes homelessness, officials said. HUD goes by the law, which requires a literal meaning of "homeless." The technical definition is an individual who lacks primary nighttime residence, but Sullivan said a person living in "shelters, streets, or places they ought not to be" should also be considered homeless.

Other critical issues being studied are the factors that lead people into homelessness. Schizophrenia, which tops the list of chronic conditions homeless people face, affects approximately 200,000 people, according to a 2003 study by the Department of Health and Human Services. In large metropolitan cities, these individuals are regarded as "part of the urban landscape", not getting the proper care, the study said.

Homeless brutality is also an ongoing concern, officials said. Reports from the National Coalition for the Homeless showed 122 attacks last year and least 20 murders.

One of the most brutal attacks was in Fort Lauderdale Florida, where two teenagers killed a homeless man, while he was sleeping. Norris Gaynor, a struggling artist and brother of a county school board member, was beaten to death with baseball bats until he was unrecognizable. Unfortunately, this is just one reported case of homeless brutality in the many that go unseen.

Hohman also thinks that HUD can "absolutely" do more to help the homeless get on their feet again.

"They could help more by maybe allotting vouchers for a home or food to the homeless. That would really help," Hohman said.

Meanwhile, HUD is focusing on finding the exact numbers of homeless people to help develop realistic solutions to address the problem, but HUD officials say anyone can help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The genesis of homelessness and poverty for millions of people of African descent – children, mothers, and fathers – in the United States as well as other countries in the Western Hemisphere was the brutality of “forced migration” and enslavement of the Indigenous African to the Western Hemisphere. Certainly the indigenous people of the Americas were not homeless and poor, nor where the enslaved Africans prior to the European age of exploration, conquest, and enslavement. This process included the decimation and obliteration of the indigenous people that inhabited those areas that the Europeans disembarked and settled.

African Americans began a history of homelessness and poverty both physically and mentally when we were stolen from Africa, and displaced in the Americas. We were imprisoned both mentally and physically once they put the shackles on our feet, hands, waists and necks. From there our ancestors were put on board slave ships and sent to different parts of the Americas and elsewhere. This process is what has been termed the “Middle Passage.” The late African American scholar, Dr. John Henrick Clarke, in the introduction to Tom Feelings superb picture book Middle Passage describes it thusly, “The triangular trade system was so named because the ships embarked from European ports, stopped in Africa to gather the captives, after which they set sail for the New world to deliver their human cargo, and then return to port again.” Clarke goes on to say, “Nowhere in the annuals of history have a people experienced such a long and traumatic ordeal as Africans during the Atlantic sea trade. Over the nearly four centuries of the slave trade –which continued until the end of the civil war-millions of African men, women and children were savagely torn from their home land, herded onto ships, and dispersed all over the so-called new world. Although there is no way to compute exactly how many people perished, it has been estimated that between 30-60 million Africans were subjected to this horrendous triangular trade system and that only one third –if that-of those people survived.

Williams, David A.