In the United States, African Americans and other people of color experience homelessness at a significantly higher rate than their Caucasian counterparts. For example, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, African Americans make up 13% of the general population, but more than 40% of the homeless population. Similarly, Native Americans make up a disproportionate share of the homeless population.

These rates among African Americans and Native Americans correlate with that of Maricopa County.  In Maricopa County, only 6.3% of the population are African American and 2.8% are Native American.  However, 25% of those experiencing homelessness in the county and 34.2% of CASS’ shelter clients are African American. Native Americans comprise 6% of the homeless population in Maricopa County and 7.1% in CASS shelter. Thus, homelessness for African Americans and Native Americans is two to five times higher than would be expected based on population statistics.

The causes of these racial inequities are complex. As Supporting Partnerships for Antiracist Communities (SPARC) pointed out, often homelessness is misunderstood, with the blame placed on individual mental health challenges, substance use, and unemployment. While these vulnerabilities certainly play a role in who becomes homeless, it does not explain the full scope of the issue. The primary root causes of homelessness are often structural, beginning with racist housing and justice policies and exacerbated by barriers to affordable housing, economic mobility, and balanced access to services and supports.


Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), Maricopa Association of Governments/ Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care (MRCoC), Arizona State University (ASU), Native American Connections (NAC), and Tanner Properties, Inc./ Tanner Community Development Corporation (TCDC) have united to dismantle racial inequities in homelessness and housing. African Americans and Native Americans experience homelessness at dramatically higher rates than the general population. LatinX experience disproportionate poverty rates, but are underrepresented in homelessness services, due to multiple complex factors.

We will pursue the following three collaborative stages: 

  • Building upon current racial equity assessment efforts, conduct in-depth internal racial equity audits on our programs and our network of agencies, adopting a robust racial equity framework for how we serve our community.
  • Based on current assessments of systemic housing barriers, create a multi-agency collaborative effort for public policy and systems change.
  • Strengthen the pipeline from homelessness to permanency for people of color through targeted investments in housing services, homelessness intervention programs, and cross-sector collaboration


Internal Assessment
and Training

Building upon current racial equity assessment efforts, we will conduct in-depth internal racial equity audits on our programs and interested network agencies, adopting a robust racial equity framework for how we serve our community.

The racial equity audits are intensive 18-month processes that examine the inequities, hidden biases, and systemic barriers in our respective agencies’ service provision, involving clients through to top leadership of each organization. These audits will be conducted by national equity-focused organizational improvement providers that are 100% led by people of color.

Collective Action for Policy
and Systems Change

Based on our collaborative agencies’ current assessments of systemic barriers to housing and the experience of NAC and Tanner Properties, Inc., we will create a multi-agency collaborative effort for public policy and systems change, pursuing the following broad strategies:

  1. Use our platforms to amplify and center people of color and those with lived experience.
  2. Disseminate best practices.
  3. Strengthen fair housing protections and affordable housing options.
  4. Support criminal justice systems reform efforts.
  5. Support the creation of system-wide workforce development guidance.
  6. Increase support for culturally appropriate social determinants of health work.

Strengthen the Pipeline from Homelessness to Permanency for BIPOC

Our collaboration will identify the most impactful options for targeted, substantial investment in culturally-specific homelessness intervention solutions, including supplementing the work already underway and creating new model programs, including modular housing communities, new approaches to transitional programs, specialized supportive communities, and new affordable housing options.

For more questions pertaining to the above information, please email development@cassaz.org.


Donations are normally non-refundable but if you have made an error in making your donation or change your mind about contributing to our organization, please contact us. CASS will only consider refunding a donation if such a request is made within thirty (30) days of the original donation provided the donor has not claimed a tax deduction from their donation. Refunds are returned through check payment only. Processing/transaction fees charged for donations will be deducted from your refund amount

Contact Us

PO Box 18250

Phoenix AZ 85005

Central Arizona Shelter Services

230 S. 12th Avenue
Phoenix AZ 85007

[Client Name]
232 S. 12th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85007

(602) 256-6945
TTY: (800) 367-8939

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Under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI and VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, CASS prohibits discrimination in admissions, programs, services, activities or employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. The CASS must make a reasonable accommodation to allow a person with a disability to take part in a program, service, or activity. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. For example, this means that if necessary, CASS must provide sign language interpreters for people who are deaf, a wheelchair accessible location, or enlarged print materials. It also means that the CASS will take any other reasonable action that allows you to take part in and understand a program or activity, including making reasonable changes to an activity. If you believe that you will not be able to understand or take part in a program or activity because of your disability, please let us know of your disability needs in advance if at all possible. To request this document in alternative format or for further information about this policy please contact: Chief Operating Officer, 602-256-6945.

Para obtener este documento en otro formato u obtener información adicional sobre esta política, Chief Operating Officer, 602-256-6945.

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