Renaissance has been focusing on racial equity within our programs and at the organization as a whole over the past year. This focus was ignited by the SPARC Phase One Study Findings published in 2018. We wanted to answer the question about whether African-American participants fared as well as other racial groups in housing outcomes.
The preliminary results from looking at our programs over the past ten years shows some surprising and not so surprising results:
African-Americans were more likely to exit to permanent housing than White participants.
African-Americans were less likely to exit the program because of death.
White participants were more likely to leave to temporary housing or to homelessness.
The first three results indicate that Renaissance’s Supportive Housing helps stabilize African-American participants’ lives and ensures that when they are ready to leave they have a permanent place to call home, despite challenges people of color face in finding housing.
Reports show that people of color have worse health outcomes in the U.S. and die earlier than White counterparts. Our data shows that Renaissance’s health focused care can mediate some of those factors.
The last outcome, African-Americans being more likely to exit to jail or prison, is disappointing. I looked further into the data to try and understand if there was something we could do better. What I found was that African-American entrants were, on average, four years younger when first experiencing the criminal justice system and had an average of almost two more years of time in jail or prison before entering Renaissance’s programs. They also averaged almost four more years of homeless before entering a Renaissance program than white participants.
This information reinforces our need for strengthening Renaissance’s trauma informed care practices and training, and focusing on crisis de-escalation and alternative ways for persons who have experienced incarceration to successfully adapt to living in the community. Ultimately, I believe that this result is a symptom of the racist housing and criminal justice systems that are desperately in need of reform. The hard working staff at Renaissance deal with the after effects of these broken systems, but the politicians need to make lasting changes if we are going to achieve any semblance of social justice in the U.S.