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From the Archives: The Black Homeless Problem in Seattle

Marika Price | The Seattle Times   in 
March 4, 2015

Seattle is one of the whitest cities in the U.S., yet the color of the homeless is largely black.

African Americans make up a little more than 7 percent of Seattle’s population, not enough to add up to one person out of 10. But that demographic is tripled for the homeless population.

The numbers increase even more for families. About 60 percent of homeless families in shelters were listed as black or African American in the 2012 Seattle Annual Homeless Count. Homeless youth also are made up of more minorities than whites.

Local organizations and agencies have been stepping up to help but the overall numbers — and the disparities — are hard to shift.

For homeless families, with more mouths to feed and bodies to shelter, the stakes are high. Some may double up or couch surf, staying with friends or family members. Others will shell out limited cash to spend nights in motels. The last resort is the street.

“Panhandling with children is the quickest way to get them taken away from you,” said Liz McDaniel, the program director at Mary’s Place, a shelter for women and children in Seattle.

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