Your Way Home Equity Evaluation Report Phase I Report (2019)

A report cover

With support from our foundation, Your Way Home (YWH) hired The Center for Social Innovation to examine racial disparities in Montgomery County's homeless population and how it can better serve them. 

The Center's SPARC (Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities) works with organizations to understand racial inequities and identifies the best ways to make changes. Specifically, YWH asked the SPARC team to determine the demographics of those experiencing homelessness in the county, review how its policies and procedures impact those of different races and ethnic groups and make recommendations on how it can improve.

Using a variety of research methods, including speaking with those experiencing homelessness, SPARC uncovered the following:

  • While African Americans comprise 10% of Montgomery County's population, they make up 51% of YWH clients.
  • About 25% of YWH clients are Black children (0-17 years), far and above any other race/age group.
  • People experiencing homelessness perceive racial bias and discrimination in accessing housing in Montgomery County.

The SPARC team developed 27 recommendations to reduce these racial disparities. The recommendations were categorized into four areas:  policies and procedures, program design, diversity and inclusion and external challenges.

YWH has prioritized six recommendations it will work on initially:

  1. Increase cross-sector collaboration for mutual accountability.
  2. Set measurable targets and timelines to dramatically reduce the number of Black kids (0-17 years) experiencing homelessness.
  3. Create opportunities for including people with lived experience in decision-making processes and staffing structures.
  4. Explore opportunities in policy and practice to remove "color blind" approaches.
  5. Conduct anti-racism and implicit bias training for all staff across the YWH network.
  6. Create opportunities for staff of color to develop as leaders.

The full report can be downloaded below.

Your Way Home has an entire section of their website devoted to their work in advancing equity. They will continue to update the community on their progress in this area and others in reducing homelessness - both the frequency and the duration - in Montgomery County.