African Americans are more likely to become homeless than people of other racial or ethnic backgrounds in Pierce County, WA and across the country. SPARC (Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities) Tacoma/Pierce County is launching a community initiative for anti-racist homeless systems with a “Community Conversation: Racial Equity & Homelessness” on Monday, December 5, 2016 from 6-8:30 p.m. (Urban Grace: The Downtown Church, 902 Market Street, Tacoma).

The goals of the community conversation are to engage stakeholders in a productive conversation about how racism drives homelessness and solicit input about ways Tacoma/Pierce County can address this issue. Speakers include Carol Mitchell, Metro Parks Tacoma and TV Tacoma (moderator); Andreta Armstrong, City of Tacoma Washington; Jacques Colon, Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department; Dexter Gordon, University of Puget Sound; Jeff Olivet, CEO, Center for Social Innovation; Marc Dones, Associate for Equity Initiatives & Diversity, Center for Social Innovation; and spoken word performances by Lucas Smiraldo, Cathy Nguyen, and Marquis McCrary.

“To address systemic racism and homelessness, we must re-build from the ground up with racial equity as our top priority,” said Olivet. “Through SPARC Tacoma/Pierce County, we are courageously and humbly owning our own privileges—and those of the community—and fighting against racism so things will change.”

C4’s SPARC team is also training Tacoma/Pierce County staff and leadership in the homeless service system on Tuesday, December 6. The training provides tools for implementing anti-racism conversations and organizational change in homeless service agencies.

These SPARC Tacoma/Pierce County events are sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pierce County Washington, City of Tacoma Washington, and the Race & Pedagogy Institute at University of Puget Sound.

Tacoma/Pierce County is joining SPARC’s 10-city project on racism and homelessness. SPARC activities include public discussions and forums, trainings for providers and community stakeholders, qualitative and quantitative research, and collaborations with leadership in housing, health care, education, criminal justice, and other systems in 10 communities across the United States. The result will be a plan for anti-racist initiatives and strategies for Tacoma/Pierce COunty and the other communities to implement over the next year.

Learn more about SPARC’s work addressing racism and homelessness and join the conversation on Facebook!

The Center for Social Innovation promotes best practices that improve the lives of marginalized and vulnerable people. We focus on complex public health problems such as homelessness, trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Using state-of-the-art research, training, and technology, we help individuals, agencies, and communities deepen the impact of their work.