3:15 – 4:30 pm | DEI Track

Speakers: Nichole Murray + Blanca Torres

Homelessness is often looked at as only a housing issue with disregard to how other identities impact youth’s lives. As more focus is being placed on equity, it is essential to consider how the complexity of social identities affects youths’ economic and social mobility. The session uses narrative and data-informed research to show how overlapping identities shape youths’ experiences and that homelessness encompasses more than an issue of housing. It is an equity issue that must be addressed.

The lives of youth experiencing homelessness are complicated by not just their housing instability but by other system failures (family, school, child welfare) and systemic inequities (race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc.). However, many programs and policies attempt to provide remedies for homelessness but fail to examine the root of the cause and/or acknowledge the disparities among youth from marginalized communities. For service providers and policymakers to truly address homelessness, they must examine how systems of power impact young people from marginalized communities and continue the cycle of homelessness.

With a focus on intersectionality, this presentation will focus on the multiple identities of youth experiencing homelessness. This includes taking into account how race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, and citizenship status shapes the diverse experiences of youth homelessness. The goals of the session are to:

  • Define intersectionality and show how multiple identities function together to produce different forms of
    discrimination that creates different lived experiences for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Address how visible and invisible barriers impact the well-being and housing opportunities for youth
    experiencing homelessness.
  • Incorporate social justice when addressing housing issues for youth from marginalized communities.

After the session, attendees will have actionable solutions and strategies which include:

  1. How to use data storytelling as a way to show diverse experiences of youth homelessness.
  2. Offering ways to reflect and acknowledge our own privileges and provide strategies on how to use privilege for
    social change.
  3. Offering a toolbox that equips attendees with ways to disrupt inequity by having difficult conversations.
  4. Sharing techniques on encouraging youth experiencing homelessness (especially from historically excluded
    communities) to become agents of change.