Homelessness is a racial justice issue

August 29, 2017

Preble Street is deeply concerned about the latest white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and around the country.

We’re inspired that anti-racist counter protesters showed up 1,000 to 1 in Boston recently and proud to have co-sponsored the rally against racism with 1,200 participants in Portland on August 20.

Preble Street stands firmly against racism. We commit to the complex work of dismantling systemic racism in our programs and services, in our city, our state, and our country.

Homelessness is a racial justice issue. In the Bayside neighborhood in Portland where many of Preble Street’s services are located, the poverty rate is close to 50% compared to Portland’s overall 19.7%. The Bayside neighborhood is also home to one of the most diverse census tracts in Maine.

Black and Brown people in Maine experience dramatic and disproportionate rates of homelessness. The most recent census numbers show that Black Mainers make up 7% of the overall Portland population. However, people of color are significantly over-represented among homeless individuals: Black folks represent 16% of those receiving an intake at the Preble Street Resource Center (PSRC). The same is true of Latino Mainers: representing 3% of the overall Portland population, but 6% of PSRC intakes.

Public policies of racial inequality lead to mass incarceration, low wages, limited access to health care, lack of funding for public education, and lack of access to stable affordable housing.

The mission of Preble Street is to provide accessible barrier-free services to empower people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty, and to advocate for solutions to these problems.

Part of fulfilling our mission is to confront the systemic forces that keep people trapped in poverty and homelessness and to advocate for their solution. We strongly oppose racist violence. We will advocate for an end to racist systems. We seek to build a community where Mainers of color can thrive.