Youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented within the population of young people we serve. Rising Up recognizes that structural racism and systemic inequities are the underlying causes of homelessness, and that ending homelessness requires an explicit commitment to transforming systems for historically marginalized groups. The following messages from Rising Up partner organizations capture the work we collectively undertake:
“Structural racism also drives youth homelessness. If your parents can’t buy a house or are incarcerated, your chances of experiencing homelessness skyrocket. Chronic underfunding of schools and an over-reliance on the juvenile justice system create a structure in which black and brown young people are warehoused, not educated. Without effective social welfare policies, police are forced to address the inevitable homelessness that ensues, posing danger to our clients, and to people of color everywhere.
A nation must not allow police to murder its citizens; rethinking how our society polices itself is now broadly acknowledged to be an urgent priority. We support Mayor Breed’s and Supervisor Walton’s actions in our own city, including Mayor Breed’s police reform plan released yesterday, and the Minneapolis city council’s efforts to benefit long-underserved communities by redirecting a portion of police funding. In addition, we are taking concrete steps within our own organization to address racism in all its forms. A new world is arising before our eyes; we pledge to join our brothers and sisters in building it.”
– Larkin Street Youth Services
“Since our inception, we have been dedicated to eliminating the disparities between foster youth and their peers. This work cannot succeed through a “colorblind” approach. The reality is that First Place has always served predominantly Black youth, and we cannot and will not be neutral in the fight against systemic racism. We commit to:
- Support and validate our Black youth, elevating their voices in conversations about their experiences and helping them become advocates for themselves and their communities.
- Promote an organizational culture that respects and celebrates the identities of our youth and team members in all our interactions.
- Respect the knowledge and expertise that our young people bring with them and include them as active partners in organizational decision-making on matters of program and policy.
- Advocate at the local, state, and national level to move forward policies that address the structural inequities in the foster care and juvenile justice systems to ensure they are truly serving youth’s needs and best interests.
- Offer best in class education and employment programming that seeks to end economic disparities for young people using an equity lens.
- Leverage existing data on “what works” with our young people to develop innovative decision-support tools that create individualized service pathways designed to promote economic self-sufficiency for every young person we serve.
- Discover and disseminate knowledge to the field that highlights disparities, identifies best practices in the delivery of services to our young people, and advocates for system-level reform in alignment with these learnings.
As we move forward, we will continue conversations and reflection within the organization to ensure we are following through on these commitments in positive and impactful ways.”
– First Place for Youth