130 Leaders and Advocates Gather for Discussion and Work on Addressing Racial Inequity in our Homeless Service System

On October 21 and 22, 2019, Monarch Housing Associates held a summit Building Racial Equity in our Homeless Service Systems: A Conversation on Race and Homelessness.

The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) hosted the summit at its offices in Trenton. 

Photos from the Summit on Building Racial Equity in our Homeless Systems is now available.  Please click here for the album.  If you attended the Summit and see yourself in any of the photos, please tag yourself.  As you share the photos through your own social media, please credit photographer Asish Patel, Monarch Housing’s COO.

The Summit was attended by 130 continuum of care leaders and members, state agency staff and advocates. NJHMFA Executive Director Charles Richman and Monarch Housing Associates CEO Taiisa Kelly welcomed the audience on the first morning.

“Strategies to end homelessness will always fall short if we don’t address racial inequities and discrimination in a multitude of areas, including housing and access to healthcare,” said New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Executive Director Charles A. Richman.

“At NJHMFA, we incentivize developers to set aside apartments in developments we finance, particularly those in our Hospital Subsidy Partnership Program, for individuals experiencing homelessness. We continue to work with racial justice advocates to ensure that affordable housing is affirmatively marketed to minorities. Our efforts will help build systems responsive to the needs of those experiencing homelessness by considering the unique barriers that people of color face in navigating the homelessness services system.”

NJHMFA hosted the summit at its offices in Trenton and provided a space to discuss these sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable topics. Attendees were able to participate in interactive exercises to gain a better understanding into what is needed to improve homeless services statewide.

Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver addressed the Summit audience on the afternoon of the first day.


“It is so important that we keep the issue of racial equity in housing at the forefront of our policy discussions,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver. “Governor Phil Murphy and I are committed to putting an end to systemic racism in New Jersey. “If we truly want to end homelessness in State of New Jersey we must acknowledge the role that structural racism plays in our system.”

National Innovation Services (NIS)‘s Marc Dones, Brittany Manzo and Marshall Buxton facilitated the two-day Summit. The goal of the Summit was to introduce participants from across New Jersey to core concepts of racial equity and to the intersection of homelessness and racism and to lay the groundwork and build momentum for collaboration on statewide systems transformation oriented toward addressing racial inequity in the homeless service systems.

The Summit demonstrated what resources and supports that are available from national partners. To that end, Amanda Andere, Executive Director of Funders Together to End Homelessness joined the audience for a discussion on the imperative of addressing racism in our work to end homelessness, the state of racial equity and homelessness at the national policy level, and the role of public and private funders in advancing this work.

The Summit gave participants the opportunity hear presentations and have conversations and discussions. Interested in learning more about the Summit and what can be done to Build Racial Equity in Our Homeless System, please email Kate Kelly at kkelly@monarchhousing.org.

This Summit has been proudly supported by a grant from the Investors Foundation and RSI Bank.

NJCounts 2019 revealed the racial disparity in the population experiencing homelessness in New Jersey. Persons identifying as African American were overrepresented in the homeless numbers counted on the night of NJCounts 2019.

Disparities along racial lines in the population experiencing homelessness are seen in a number of areas. NJCounts 2019 found persons identifying as Black or African American made up the majority of sheltered persons, 3,678 persons (51.5%), and unsheltered persons, 698 persons (49.4%), identified in the Point-in-Time count.

In New Jersey, according to NJCounts 2019, persons identifying as Black or African American are overrepresented in the population experiencing homelessness and living below the poverty level. While 13% of the general population, persons identifying as Black or African American are 24% of the population in poverty and 49.4% of the population experiencing homelessness.

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