Black Americans are more likely to see homelessness as a serious issue

Jamie BallardData Journalist
November 06, 2018, 6:00 PM GMT+0

Over one-third of Americans say having a homeless shelter in a neighborhood often brings trouble

There are currently more than 550,000 homeless people living in the US, according to the most recent figures available. In many cities, homelessness is an issue that disproportionately affects black citizens. New data from YouGov Omnibus finds that black Americans are more likely than the overall population to have experienced homelessness, know someone who is currently homeless, and see homeless citizens as “regular people just like anyone else.”

Black adults in the US are almost twice as likely as the overall population to say that homelessness is a “very serious” issue in their town or city. Four in ten (40%) black adults say this is the case, while only 22% of the total population chose the same answer. Another 29% of black adults say the issue is “somewhat” serious, while 33% of the total population agreed.

The degree to which people say homelessness is a problem may be influenced by their personal experiences with homelessness. Black adults (16%) are twice as likely as the total population (8%) to have a friend or family member currently experiencing homelessness. They’re also significantly more likely to have struggled with homelessness themselves – 27% of black people reported being homeless at some point, compared to 17% of the total population.

Personal experiences may affect how people feel about potential homelessness solutions, like opening more homeless shelters. Two-thirds (66%) of black adults in the US would strongly or somewhat support their city opening a new homeless shelter within a mile of where they live. A smaller majority (54%) of the total population agrees.

That said, some people have reservations about homeless shelters in their area. About one-third (34%) of the total population agreed with the statement “Having a homeless shelter in a neighborhood usually brings trouble to that neighborhood.” One-quarter (25%) of black Americans agreed. Overall, Americans who are 55 and older were more likely (39%) than their younger counterparts (35% of Gen X and 28% of millennials) to say homeless shelters bring trouble to an area. But the trends were not the same when looking exclusively at black respondents: black Americans 55 and up (23%) were actually slightly less likely than black Gen X’ers (26%) and black millennials (28%) to say that shelters bring trouble.

Other statements people were asked to evaluate included “I give money to homeless people when I can” (58% of black people agreed, as did 42% of the total population) and “I try to avoid homeless people when I see them on the street (19% of black people and 30% of the total population agreed).

See full results from the nationally representative survey here and the African-American survey here.

Learn more about YouGov Omnibus.

Image: Getty

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