Meeting Information

Meeting Type
Friday Coalition Meeting
Friday, 2/22/2019
9:30 AM
11:30 AM
Racism and Homelessness - a panel discussion. Carolyn Weisz, with the University of Puget Sound will lead us off, with the Tacoma Urban League and Tacoma Public Schools presenting.
The Salvation Army Church (1110 S Puget Sound Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405)


  • Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Service
  • Our Emcee stock is running low today, so you’ve got me (man, does he have to do everything around here? –ed.)
  • I’m a data guy, and I stare at the data all day long.  We see disproportionate representation of households of color in the homeless system – even when you balance out for poverty rates.  We all know that, either anecdotally or from research.
  • I wanted to hear from some folks working to address this issue
  • Also thought we could all benefit from a report out from the Race and Pedagogy Conference last fall. 
  • One name that often comes up when we discuss race and homelessness is Carolyn Weisz, and she was kind enough to put a program together for us today. 


Race and Homelessness

  • Carolyn Weisz, University of Puget Sound -
  • Lots of folks in here are doing anti-racism work. 
  • Want to give some tools and support for you all
  • I’m going to start and hand off to Samie Iverson about youth and school homeless
  • Adrian will talk about the Urban League’s black empowerment center
  • Prepare you to think in an action oriented way.
  • The powerpoint presentation:
  • Race and Pedagogy National Conference –  
    • Generally, the conference attracted some 4,000 people –activists, scholars, folks all over the county and even a few folks internationally (like Canada, or “real” international? –ed.)
    • This is a huge project – the result of a decade of a significant amount of work around this. 
    • Colleges Dexter Gordon and Grace Livingston help
    • Theme: Radically Re-Imagining the Project of Justice: Narratives of Rupture, Resilience, and Liberation
    • Had amazing speakers and keynotes.    
    • Watched the Video - (I just watched the video again – makes me wish I would have made the time to attend the conference. Ed.)
    • The Race and Pedagogy Institute is a great collaboration among many partners in the community.
    • The Race and Pedagogy Institute (RPI) Mission:  To educate students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race, to cultivate terms and practices for societal transformation, and to act to eliminate racism.
    • You can see some of the folks who presented, including Valerie Jarrett - featured in Michelle Obama’s book (which Michelle Obama narrates herself on – totally worth the listen. –ed)
      • Over 120 smaller session.
      • 12 of the big sessions – were issues that the race and pedagogy institute has prioritized as focal areas.  This year, homelessness was added to the spotlight – showing its importance in antiracism work.  Planner were from lots of agencies in the area – including Samie.
      • Institute has been taking place every four years since 2006 - 2010, 2014, and 2018. 
    • Homelessness is central to anti-racism work (as well as being a national crisis).  Homelessness is at the intersection all sorts of system where racism exist – banking, criminal justice, education, employment, and drive homelessness. 
  • I’m an educator, and I teach about racism.  Folks have views about racism – and probably all of them are true.  There are many different entry points. 
    • System racism – like white privilege, system of advantage based on race
    • Institutional Racism – housing discrimination, criminal justice, racial profiling in policing
    • Modern/implicit racism – unintentional racism
    • Blatant personal racism – get message from the media with no value and beliefs of racism, carry around stereotypes from the culture.  Good people when we aren’t aware and thinking, the stereotypes around us may come out in our ways of thinking (there have been some great Onion articles over the years, but one that has always stuck with me is the “Stereotypes are a real timesaver” article:  - I know it is satire, but they seem to channel one of my first bosses – RB Taylor – man that guy was an ass -ed.)
  • UW did its own report on eviction.  From 2013-2017 – blacks show significant disproportionality (“disproportionality” probably shouldn’t be a word – it is just a hot mess.  You can say that “Blacks show significant disproportionality”, but isn’t it just clearer to say “Blacks get screwed way more than everyone else”?  This is the kind of sentence that makes my HR department nervous when I open my mouth, but I stand by it. –ed.)
  • SPARC – work with Tacoma Pierce County and City of Tacoma to study Race and homelessness.  There is a report that is available (download that bad boy at -ed.).  Lots of qualitative research in addition to data.  They people of color experiencing homelessness were put at the center of this report – so while there is a lot of static, if it is an informative report (This report is totally worth the read – well done, and the qualitative analysis uncovers some realities that are worth understanding. –ed)
  • 13% of the national population is black, but 40% of people experiencing homelessness are black– we see the same thing locally.
  • Looking at personal income and personal poverty – it doesn’t line up.  African Americans  are overrepresented in poverty, but much more overrepresented in homelessness.  Same with Native Americans.
  • Factors influencing homelessness
    • Network impoverishment (read the SPARC report to learn all about network impoverishment – totally worth the read just for that research –ed.)
    • Lack of safe and affordable housing
    • Felony history
    • Traumatic stress, mental health, and substance use.
    • Multi-generational
  • A recent lunch symposium on homelessness in Sand Diego prioritized race and homelessness at the the 2019 National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in San Diego (  -ed)
  • My own research – I went to project homeless connect and did qualitative assessments.  The research showed people that haven’t experienced prejudice worry about possible prejudice - called  “stigma concern” – so they often don’t’ try to access services.  Many people of color worried a lot about racial discrimination – but didn’t worry about the stigma of homelessness.  But service avoidance was a worry that prevented them from accessing services. (I need to read this bullet point every day to remind me why, as  homeless providers, we need to partner really deeply with partners in the community to create approachable service points.  There should be options so everyone can find a place they feel comfortable discussing their homeless situation – ed.)
  • Spotlight sessions –
  • Maureen – will Pierce County participate in SPARC II?  Carolyn – it may?  This group could create a committee to connect with SPARC (my understanding is the County passed on taking part in SPARC II, but the City of Tacoma has committed to it. –ed)
  • Carolyn Read - Immigration and homelessness? Is there information available?  Carolyn Weisz – connect with me offline.
  • Samie Iverson, Tacoma Public Schools -  siverso@Tacoma.K12.Wa.US
    • Worked on these slides with Kitara Jordan with Building Changes – a super advocate working on race and student homelessness
    • 40,934- statewide number of students identifying as homeless
    • This is growing – people sometimes say we are over identifying – I think we are just becoming more aware (and homelessness is growing). 
    • Student homelessness – We include pre-k to age 21.
    • Consistent barrier we run into is the definition of homelessness.  Housing and Urban Development and Department of Education have two different definitions.  75% of our population is doubled up or staying in a motel or hotel.  Doubled up families are on the slide to homelessness.  McKinney Vento double up is living with family member or friend because of financial circumstances.  A 19 year old crashing at a friends’ house – staying somewhere without a lease saying you can be there permanently – that is couch surfing. 
    • McKinney Vento is underfunded.  41 out of 295 school districts get funding to meet requirements.  This population is challenging to reach, but just doing what we can with our resources.  Much of our funding is from the Homeless Student Stability Program Funding – a 2 year grant process.  It brings resources into school districts – it is how I got my job.  Hired on a one year grant that has been  renewed.  It allows some creativity in implementation. 
    • Our work brings additional supports to families. 
    • 2018-19 – Samie’s personal data – I get referrals from other McKinney Vento liaisons
      • 138 total Households (including Unaccompanied Youth)
      • Percentage of Color Served
        • 92% of literally homeless families were people of color
        • 70% of doubled up were people of color
        • 57% of unaccompanied youth were people of color
      • These are small number, but representative of the whole McKinney Vento population
    • Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction – 2015-2016 data is the best info about McKinney Vent by race – but you can’t find the district numbers.  This data is not easily accessible.  This is old data – and is challenging to use. 
    • We use racial impact lens selectively. 
    • Case – mom & kids – African American – called me every day – she was a mover – brilliant.  Kept having trouble getting housing, think she sounds too black.  She’d try to hide her voice, but the moment she sounded black, the landlord would end the conversation.  Seeing her fight every day is incredible.  Found a landlord, who I met with, and landlord was surprised I was oriental cause I didn’t sound that way…
    • We hear the stories, and we want to do something, but what do we do? 
    • Targeted Universalism
      • When  you serve the most vulnerable, you improve services for everyone. (this is a key tenant of work in the disability community too – Universal Design. –ed)
      • One that is inclusive of the dominant and the  marginal groups – but takes particular needs of the marginal groups.  This could frame how we approach our work.  It makes the most sense to give the extra awareness of experience if we consider the marginalized needs.
    • Question: data on families – if the head of household was white but a child was a person of color, how did you group that?  Samie – I track by head of household or Unaccompanied Youth- so this doesn’t take into account the dependents in the household. 
    • Maureen – Tacoma Public Schools just announced a 30 million budget cut – a good opportunity for us to ask for 2 or 3 things – like decisions to include a racial equity lens at the administrative level, classified level.  If we don’t ask, it won’t happen.  Convening a group in early March to talk about racial equity.  June 24th and 25 – have an equity summit – will invite housing providers and drive the point of housing home. 
    • Questions – lots of homeless – they leave stable environments – there is a reputation that you can get help here – we have youth from other states here.  But then they get trapped in bad situations.
    • Theresa – you said it is hard for big systems to gather this data.  Keep working on that, but there are other folks doing your same job, and you can all ask.  Keep working on it – Sammie –OK
    • Talking about the overwhelming whiteness in big systems and even in social services.  People are worried about the discrimination in services.  That would be a good conversation.  Samie – yes, that would be good. 
  • Adriane Wilson, Tacoma Urban League, project coordinator for the Black Empowerment Center -
    • The Urban League has a 3 year Northwest Area Foundation grant, were asked to talk about what African American experience with financial institutions. 
    • We started in 2015 – trying to tackle racial wealth gap.  We found out that it will take African Americans 228 years to catch up to white wealth, if whites stopped amassing wealth right now.
    • 6 cities are working to reverse racial economic disparities. 
    • We haven’t dealt with homelessness at the Urban League, but we are always looking for partnerships
    • A number of groups came together – Tacoma Urban League, Tacoma Ministerial Alliance, United Way Pierce County, Sound Outreach, HUG, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – but it wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership from Coleman & Associated.
    • I went from community member receiving services to a staff member on a 3-year project.  Everyone is equal around the table – we have a wide range of members.  We do Heart Work – believe we are the architects of our own lives – we need to have grassroots level opportunities. 
    • Building a hub for the black community
    • Also building a bridge to groups in the community that have traditionally left us out.
    • Racial Wealth Gap
      • Black and white disparity - for every $1 of black wealth earned, $13 of white wealth is earned. 
      • Median white income is $73k but only $54k for a black family.
      • 1 in 13 whites are in poverty, while 1 in 7 blacks are in poverty
      • 46% HOC are asset poos – 19% for whites.  Assetts provide resources for folks to exit poverty. 
      • People of Color with college degree have less wealth than white high school dropouts
      • Work effort does not pay off equally for blacks and whites. 
    • In constructions – 93% of contracts were awarded to white groups.
    • Home ownership – local home ownership for blacks – 23.5%.  local white home ownership – 56.7%.  Some areas in Tacoma, white received all the mortgage funding. (The Color of Law is a great book that delves into the specifics of racist governmental policies around housing - .  A fascinating read –ed.)
    • Net migration coming  in to Tacoma,
    • Housing – in Pierce County, 69% of household pay over 30% of their income for rent. 
    • Local affordability – need $22/hours or 1.9 jobs at minimum wage to afford an apartment in Tacoma
    • Income goes up 10% while house purchase price is up 110%.
    • Blacks pay higher interest rates than non-Hispanic whites – even when all other factors are the same.
    • Black Empowerment Center plans – events coming up
  • Daniel - Excellent job on that presentation – it is important to see thing from the other side – we sit at a desk and look out the windows, but until you experience it, you can’t really understand it. 
  • Small Group Time – how do issues of race an racism show up in your group – what do you do that is effective. 
  • Samie - Racial Equity Workgroup – sign up – I don’t know what that group is going to do.  Can commit to one Friday a month and sync up with how the workgroups turn out. 


New Family Day Center

  • Alan Brown, Catholic Community Services -
  • Family Day Center is open and ready for more families – info at  
  • Address: 5050 south Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA
  • Open Monday through Friday – 9am-4pm  (noon-6pm on Wednesday)
  • Households with minors or pregnant women (parents can come in, even if minors not present)
  • Immediate access to Coordinated Entry conversation and assessment
  • Private Showers and bath
  • Kitchens to cook their own food, and snacks to eat.
  • Laundry


  • Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Service
  • Our Emcee stock is running low today, so you’ve got me (man, does he have to do everything around here? –ed.)
  • I’m a data guy, and I stare at the data all day long.  We see disproportionate representation of households of color in the homeless system – even when you balance out for poverty rates.  We all know that, either anecdotally or from research.
  • I wanted to hear from some folks working to address this issue
  • Also thought we could all benefit from a report out from the Race and Pedagogy Conference last fall. 
  • One name that often comes up when we discuss race and homelessness is Carolyn Weisz, and she was kind enough to put a program together for us today. 

Good of the Order

  • Alice - Minority veterans of America – Veteran hiring event - March 11th at the Seven Seas from 6pm-9pm (  -ed)
  • Maureen - Tacoma rental housing in in force – all tenants should have received this information from their landlord (“Should” is the important word here - I’m going to just guess that perhaps that information didn’t make into the hands of every tenant in Tacoma… -ed.)  contact me with questions -
  • Olive Crest – safe place for kids for families in crisis.  If family is facing homelessness or incarceration or whatever – have host families that takes in children.  Parents don’t give up custody.
  • Larry – At the start of the meeting, Larry mentioned a homeless family member a friend was trying to track down.  By the end of the meeting, word had reached the individual and they were able to connect with their family.

Coming Attractions

  • March 8th – Census 2020 – how to help make sure everyone is counted, as well as a presentation on Hospital Charity Care Policies
  • March 15th – Topics focused around youth homelessness  (I guess I better get busy scheduling some folks for this –ed.)
  • March 22nd – Rapid Rehousing 101, and Landlord Liaison Program 6 month report
  • March 29th – Is Mardi Gras a festival rich in culture and epicurean delights, or the sketchiest possible way to start the solemn season of lent – the lead up to Christianity’s holiest of weeks.  Our panelists will devolve into the pagan links between Mardi Gras and Saturnalia, it’s connection to the feast of the epiphany, and bead necklace distribution practices on Bourbon Street.  Hear the facts and form your own conclusions.  You don’t want to miss it.

Restaurant Review

Writing up these notes got me thinking about the intersection of race and food.  A great soul food restaurant in Seattle in the early 90’s was Thomas’ Point of View, up on Capitol Hill.  It was sort of a hang out for some interesting thinkers and a very welcoming place to learn about the black experience – narratives completely missing from my white bread, suburban upbringing.  They had some amazing collard greens, too.  I’ve tried to replicate them scores of times, but they did something I’ve never quite managed to accomplish.  I was too shy to ask how they made them then – but sadly we can’t change who we were – just who we are, and I’ll probably never know the secret.  Anyway, Thomas’ has been closed for quite some time now.  Now when I get a nackering for some soul food, my first thought is always the Southern Kitchen ( - 1716 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA).  You feel welcome the moment you walk in the front door.  It isn’t a huge space, and it always has a bit of an electricity to it that I appreciate.  The people in that restaurant are always happy they are there, and that feeling just sort of floats around and soaks into your bones.  I’m a fan of the catfish – an underappreciated seafood here in the Great Northwest.  Their fried chicken is great, too.  My cardiologist might say otherwise, but you can’t go wrong with the chicken fried steak.  They really shine in their sides.  The fried green tomatoes are spot on, and the mac and cheese is grandma-quality.  They do breakfast too, but for some reason this is mostly a lunch spot for me.  That said, the biscuit and gravy is worth the trip.  Anyway, if you want a lovely meal and that famous southern hospitality, pop in to the Southern Kitchen.  And don’t skip the sweet tea, unless it is for their strawberry lemonade – if you don’t smile when those drinks are set before you, I don’t know what to say.


  • Alan Brown, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington
  • Immaculate Ferreria, Family Support Specialist and Community Advocate
  • Karleen Essary,  Employment Pipeline
  • Curtis Robinson, CSD (Community Services Something-or-other – didn’t quite catch it and “CSD” doesn’t mean anything to me – except maybe “Conceptual Schema Diagram” from my days teaching database design…-ed)
  • Mel Leary, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Rosemary Powers, New Connections
  • CC Mendoza, Metropolitan Development Council
  • Maureen Howard, Housing Advocate Extraordinaire (I added Extraordinaire, but its true –ed.)
  • Sandra Sych, Pierce County AIDs Foundation
  • Theresa Power-Drutis, New Connections
  • Bryan Green, Olive Crest – Safe Families for Children
  • Emily Less, Tacoma Pierce County Health Department
  • Carolyn Weisz, University of Puget Sound
  • Samie Iverson, Tacoma Public Schools
  • Shameka Willis, Housing for Success/Reach
  • Devon Isakson, ACT/the Reach Center
  • Daniel Howell, None for right now
  • Bruce Morris, Tacoma Transportation Commission and Chaplain, Tacoma Fire Department
  • Larry Seaquist, League of Women Voters
  • Cynthia Stewart – league of Women Voters 
  • Patricia Menzies, Tent City Tacoma
  • Carlos Castanon, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Nathan Blackmer, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Greta Blackman, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Shawdna Anderson-Ide, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Audrey Oliver, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Tammy Riles, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Bonnie Rico, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Rainey Carlin, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Alice Sofiasdiakonos, Industrial Workers of the World
  • Adam Nolan, Community Member
  • Dana Peterson, Catholic Community Services
  • Jane McKittrick, Concerned Citizen
  • Don Pitchford, House of Prayer
  • Stephanie Prudhomme,  Adonai Counseling & Employment
  • Richard Berghammer, Fellowship Bible Church
  • Tony Lewis, Landlord Liaison Program
  • Patty Schnieder, Catholic Community Services
  • Matthew Jorgensen, City of Tacoma
  • Keidrick O’Bannon, City of Tacoma
  • Sarah Appling, Pierce County Human Services (welcome back –ed.)
  • Stacey Olson, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Ursula Richard, The Homes of Naomi, Ruth & Boaz
  • Taniesha Lyons, Community Member
  • Yuki Ishigamori
  • Carolyn Read, St. Leo’s Parish
  • Byron Corzo, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Nataly Renteria, Amerigroup
  • Peter Mayer, Metro Parks Tacoma
  • Yvette Kungkagam, Northwest Christian Fellowship Network
  • Carrie Ching, Molina Healthcare
  • Bill Harrison, Community Medicare
  • Harli Crow, Tacoma Rescue Mission
  • Andrea Sanz, Tacoma Rescue Mission
  • Marybeth McCarthy, Tacoma Community College
  • Alfred J. Kirk, Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee
  • William Stinson, Catholic Community Services
  • Dana Orr, Pierce County AIDs Foundation