Understanding Racial Disparities in Homelessness

House and group of faces

In recent years, the United States has begun to place greater emphasis on racial equity as a key component to ending homelessness. For decades, racial and ethnic minorities, especially Black and Indigenous persons, have experienced homelessness at much higher rates than their white counterparts. This disproportionate burden has a long history rooted in racialized policies that continue to affect people experiencing homelessness today. In this training we will explore this history while examining the structural and individual factors driving the racialization of homelessness. Presenters will identify ways that our current service delivery system reinforces racial disparities, placing an emphasis on the need to move toward equity, rather than equality, in the homeless services system.


2:45-3:00 PM | Virtual training room opens
3:00-3:05 PM | Welcome & introductions
3:05-3:15 PM | Review recent statistics about race & homelessness
3:15-3:30 PM | Define racism & structural racism
3:30-4:00 PM | Structural & interpersonal factors; Barriers within the homeless service system
4:00-4:15 PM | Systems-level & individual-level approaches to addressing racism in homelessness
4:15-4:30 PM | Q&A

Learning objectives
When attendees return to the workplace, they will be able to:

  • Explore the current state of homelessness through the lens of race and ethnicity at a national and local level
  • Explain key structural and individual factors that disproportionately impact racial minorities experiencing homelessness
  • Identify the ways that current service delivery systems reproduce and reinforce racial disparities

Target Audience: Social service providers and helping professionals working with individuals experiencing homelessness and/or BIPOC communities, policy-makers, government workers, agency administrators, CoC leads, or anyone invested in ending homelessness in their community. 
Social Work Practice Level: This course is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, or advanced BSW/ MSW learners.
Content Level: This course covers intermediate level material.
Course Delivery Format: Live webinar
Interactivity: This course will offer 15 minutes of Q&A time. 
LSW/LCSW Continuing Education Credit: 1.5 CE Credits
Fees: $15 general registration; additional $5 for registration with LSW/LCSW CE credit

Registration includes access to the live event and recording, PDF of slides, and relevant training tip sheets/resources.

Session Facilitators:

Ryan Villagran, MSW joined Housing First University in June 2021 as a Training Specialist. Ryan holds a Master of Social Work from Temple University with a concentration in Communities & Policy. His clinical background includes delivering psychiatric rehabilitation services in the mental health recovery model at a Community Integrated Recovery Center. Ryan also developed and coordinated a training program in a university setting for social workers serving transitional-aged youth and later taught a Human Behavior in the Social Environment course for graduate social work students. Ryan is involved in organizing efforts around ending mass incarceration and believes in the power of our collective imagination to dream of a better future centered around the most vulnerable members of our community.

Andrew Spiers, LSW  is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for Pathways to Housing PA’s Housing First University. Andrew joined Pathways in early 2018 and served as an Assistant Team Leader and Team Leader before launching Housing First University in October 2019. Andrew holds a Master of Social Service from Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, where he concentrated in Community Practice, Policy, & Advocacy. He has taught Human Services and Sociology courses as an adjunct professor at Harcum College and conducted trainings and workshops all over the country on Housing First, harm reduction, and affirming care for LGBTQ+ communities.

*CE credit is available to Licensed Social Workers (LSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) ONLY.  Due to current regulations, CE credits cannot be offered to social workers in the states of New Jersey or New York.  All others: please check with your professional licensing board to see if this course qualifies for credit towards your needed continuing education hours.