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Race & Equity at Renaissance Social Services

Is race a predictor of success in Supportive Housing?

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.

To find these answers we pulled data from all of the people served by Renaissance Social Services housing programs from 2010-2018. The number of people served during this period was 458. The primary focus of the analysis was on the people who exited the program, 153 people.

The University of Chicago’s Urban Labs completed data analysis including significance testing.

The data analysis resulted in some surprising and not so surprising results:

  • Race was not a significant factor in exiting to permanent housing.

  • There was no significant correlation between race and where people went when exiting programs.

  • There was no significant correlation between race and why people left the programs.

  • Having income from any source at entry reduces the odds of exiting to homelessness.


  • African Americans who had experienced chronic homelessness before entering the program were significantly more likely to exit to an institution (i.e., hospital, psychiatric institution, long-term care facility).

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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 is disappointing, but makes sense in context. While we know that African Americans are more likely to experience chronic homelessness than any other race group, we also know that the more time a person is homeless, they acquire more chronic health conditions, experience more psychiatric symptoms, and die earlier than the general population, and thus would need to move to long term institutional care as a program exit.

This information reinforces the need for strengthening Renaissance’s trauma informed care practices and training, and focusing on holistic care while ensuring that all participants have a dependable source of income.

Some of the results of this analysis were too weak to determine significance because of a small sample size. Renaissance and Urban Labs have taken these results to the community of homeless providers in order to ask for a citywide analysis of the data from housing and non-housing programs. We look forward to reviewing the results in an effort to create an integrated system of care for the homeless that is data driven and equitable for all.

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