Addressing systemic racism in Charleston’s homeless community

VIDEO: Addressing systemic racism in Charleston’s homeless community

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The homeless shelter in downtown Charleston, One80 Place, is working on ways to reduce systemic racism in the battle against homelessness through an internal assessment.

This comes after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others sparked protests and riots around the country.

“The events earlier this year around social injustice, around racial injustice and inequity really struck a chord with us,” Chief Development Officer at One80 Place Marco Corona said.

“We know that just looking at the numbers, you know that systemic racism plays a role in this, and anything we can do to combat it we want to do,” he added.

He said the overall population in South Carolina is about 27 percent Black, but the homeless population in the state is about 52 percent Black.

“People who are Black are over-represented in the homeless population, and so we wanted to address that and look at what we’re doing to either contribute to that or ways that we can break the cycle,” Corona said.

The assessment will be done by an outside consulting group and will take about a year. It will include surveys and focus groups with the staff and clients at the shelter.

“To get a sense of what are our practices and policies and how can they be contributing to systemic racism in the homelessness field,” Marco said.

The conversation about racial injustice has been combined with some other issues the shelter is trying to tackle. Corona said the pandemic has severely affected the shelter and they cannot operate at full capacity because they are spreading people out.

He also believes as unemployment rates stay high, more evictions will happen in the upcoming weeks and months and more people will need help. This comes as hurricane season ramps up and the possible evacuation of the shelter should a strong storm come our way.

“We are trying to fight multiple things on multiple fronts,” he added.

You can read more about the services at One80 Place by clicking: here.

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