What does it take to be vulnerable? For a Black man, it can take overcoming generational expectations and stereotypes while navigating systems that, at best, were not designed to serve you.
One of those systems is the Homelessness Response System. In Austin, as around the country, Black people make up a disproportionate share of our unhoused population. Due to systemic racism in housing, education, healthcare, policing, and too many other systems to name, a Black Austinite is at least six times more likely to experience homelessness than a white Austinite.
ECHO is dedicated to reducing and eliminating racial disparities in homelessness services. That starts by understanding the scope of the need. As part of St. David’s Foundation’s Data for Equity grant, which ECHO was awarded for 2022, ECHO staff are partnering with members of our community with firsthand experience of homelessness to evaluate system gaps and where we can improve services for Black people living outside.
July is BIPOC Mental Health Month, and we’re highlighting the perspectives of three men who’ve participated in this project, Mackenzie, Fred, and Scott. Together, they explain how it feels to navigate social services as Black men and how we can improve our system to better respond to everyone’s needs.