Equity & Inclusion Lens Offers Tool for Building Racial Equity

Lens Offers Resource for Addressing Racial Inequity in the Homeless Service System

The Nonprofit Association of Oregon has developed an Equity & Inclusion Lens Guide.

This lens was adapted with the generous permission from the City of Ottawa and the City for All Women Initiative from their 2018 Equity and Inclusion Lens Handbook and related tools and resources. NAO requested permission to adapt this tool with the intention of sharing it with our members as a resource.

This Equity & Inclusion Lens Guide is relevant to Building Racial Equity in our Homeless Service System in that it can be applied and used to take positive steps to remove systemic barriers and promote inclusion, achieve improved satisfaction in work and services, create a more positive and respectful work environment and generate better solutions by incorporating diverse perspectives.

An Equity Lens is something that you can use daily; it is essential to ensure we are asking ourselves the questions that will make us think about being equitable and inclusive in every aspect of our work and interactions.

This interactive tool can be used to consider diversity, check assumptions, ask about inclusion and apply equity and inclusion to our work.

The tool reminds us that equity is the concept of treating everyone fairly by acknowledging everyone’s unique situation and addressing systemic barriers. The aim of equity is to ensure that everyone has access to equal results and benefits.

The racial inequity in New Jersey’s population experiencing homelessness is caused by structural problems along with current behaviors.

NJCounts 2019 found that on the night of January 22, 2019, a total of 8,864 men, women and children in 6,748 households were identified as experiencing homelessness in the state of New Jersey.

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.

We need new policies, processes and practices to change the homeless service system and work to eliminate inequity. Race is a social factor that influences life experiences. Racism is an overarching system of power that indirectly and directly impacts life.

The Equity & Gender Lens includes worksheets and other tools that we can use to apply the lens to our work.