Intentional partnerships to overcome barriers: a case study in undoing institutional racism

Imagine you are an immigrant, maybe a refugee from a war-torn part of the world. You’ve made your way to Seattle to make a new life and you are temporarily living with a relative.

Camping out with your family in a living room in South Seattle might well feel safer than where you left. But, you are still in unstable housing. And while you are eligible to receive financial and practical support through local housing stabilization programs, how would you even know?

Immigrants and refugees living doubled up with family members are an underserved population, facing multiple barriers to getting the resources and services they need to stabilize their lives. Barriers can include limited English proficiency, fear of governmental institutions, lack of information about available resources and others. Often times the resources exist, through homeless prevention programs in the community that can be accessed through community phone systems. Unfortunately, the 2-1-1 Community Information Line that serves as the centralized entry point for these and similar programs in King County can also be a significant barrier to accessing the services.

In an effort to reach out to these and other underserved populations, Solid Ground’s Homeless Prevention Programs have for the past year worked to develop “intentional partnerships” with community-based agencies actively involved in immigrant communities, the LGBTQ community, domestic violence survivors and other marginalized populations.

“A part of our intention was to build partnerships where we are able to reach out to marginalized populations who might otherwise fall through the cracks, and who may never have accessed social service systems,” said Sukanya Pani, of Solid Ground’s Seattle Housing Stabilization Services (Seattle HSS).

Grounding in principles of  undoing racism

The effort to reach clients through these intentional community partnerships is a part of the mission of each of the six separate Homeless Prevention Programs (HPP) at Solid Ground. The initiative is linked closely to Solid Ground’s efforts to undo institutional racism in our organization and in our community.

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