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Report: African-Americans overrepresented in local homeless population

Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-16 22:29:21-05

SAN DIEGO — The Regional Task Force on Homelessness reports African-Americans are six times more likely to be homeless than others in our community. Local nonprofit Urban Street Angels is trying to change that.

23-year-old Derek Bing didn't have it easy growing up.

"My life didn't really start on a high note. My mother was incarcerated when I was born," said Bing. "My father had custody of me for the most part. Then he also struggled with a lot of issues like substance abuse."

So Bing was six years old when he began bouncing between foster care, different family members, and eventually his aunt's car. He moved into Urban Street Angels' La Mesa location last July.

"Now I'm self-sufficient," said Bing. "I can do things on my own. I can get food on my own, I can cook on my own. I feel like an actual adult for the first time in my life."

The Urban Street Angels house about 100 young people ages 18 to 25. Unfortunately, the nonprofit says it sees a disproportionate amount of people of color winding up on the streets.

The Regional Task Force on Homelessness says more than a quarter of homeless San Diegans are black, even though African-Americans are just six percent of the population.

The task force says it's an issue that goes back generations, worsened by discrimination in places like housing.

"The same issues that the parents were experiencing when they were involved with child welfare was the same thing the youth in our program dealt with," said Tanya Zepeda, Program Director for Urban Street Angels. "Just the same thing at a different age."

The nonprofit says progress starts with listening to what each young person needs.

"If someone needs school readiness or if someone needs a job, we partner with other organizations in San Diego and they help us," said Zepeda. "We individualize so that you can become successful. Because if we make a roadmap for you, it's not going to work."

If you want to learn more about Urban Street Angels or donate, you can visit the nonprofit's website.