Are Assessments for Housing Racially Equitable?

housing inequality

People of color are overrepresented among people who are homeless. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds Continuums of Care (local planning bodies) to support people and families experiencing homelessness. However, there is not enough housing or funding allocated to cover the needs of all people and families experiencing homelessness. So, HUD requires Continuums of Care to assess and prioritize the needs of individuals and families to determine how to use limited resources.

Homeless services providers and other local stakeholders have voiced concerns that the assessments used are not equitable and lead to the prioritization of White people for housing. In partnership with Building Changes and four Continuums of Care, C4 Innovations studied possible racial inequities in these assessments.

Study findings include:

  • On average, Black, Indigenous, and people of color are prioritized lower than their White counterparts.
  • White individuals are prioritized higher for Permanent Supportive Housing resources.
  • Many of the questions asked by a commonly used assessment tool (VI-SPDAT) are tilted toward capturing vulnerabilities that White people experience.

The study concludes there is a need to change assessment and prioritization processes. It makes recommendations for next steps at the local and national/policy levels as well as additional research needed. Some of the recommendations include:

  • Communities should use existing tools such as HUD COC Racial Equity Analysis Tool to identify populations disproportionately represented in their homeless system, assess which factors contribute to inequities, and take steps to address these factors, including looking into different tools and/or methods for prioritization.
  • Communities should ensure that homeless service providers and program administrators are trained in racial equity frameworks and practice, cultural humility/sensitivity, and trauma-informed practice.

IP 19 Logo Icon crop

Invisible People


We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Until then, we strive to be the most trusted source for homelessness news, education and advocacy.

Related Topics

Your support can create amazing change

Join the campaign to end homelessness by supporting the only newsroom focused solely on the topic of homelessness. Our original reporting — posted five to seven days a week — can also be found on Apple News and Google News. Through storytelling, education, news, and advocacy, we are changing the narrative on homelessness.

Invisible People is a nonprofit organization. We rely on the support of friends like you — people who understand that well-written, carefully researched stories can change minds about this issue. And that’s what leads to true transformation and policy change. Our writers have their fingers on the pulse of homeless communities. Many are formerly or currently homeless themselves. They are the real experts, passionate about ending homelessness. Your support helps us tell the true story of this crisis and solutions that will end it. Your donations help make history by telling the real story of homelessness to inspire tangible actions to end it.

Your donation, big or small, will help bring real change.


Get the Invisible People newsletter


Get the Invisible People newsletter