In Sacramento, Black/African Americans are three times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population. Meanwhile, American Indian and Alaskan Natives are four times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population.
As the lead agency working to inclusively and collaboratively address the needs of the region’s diverse unhoused populations, we launched the Racial Equity (REQ) Committee in 2021 to uncover the scope, causes, and potential solutions of race serving as a predictor for homelessness in Sacramento.
Bravely stepping into this leadership space to enhance racial equity, we are excited to be joined by Tanesha Travis who will be one of the key staff to represent our community’s various voices and backgrounds.
We sat down with Tanesha to learn more about her and what is ahead for her role as Persons with Lived Experience Coordinator.
What will you be doing at SSF?
In this role, I will be working closely with our current Partners with Lived Expertise (PLEs) to ensure their voices are present and heard in all the work that SSF does. They are the heart of the communities that we serve and their insight, ideas, and feedback are integral to the work that is being done in an effort to provide housing and services to persons experiencing homelessness. In addition to this, I will be working in the community to identify additional Partners with Lived Expertise to be a part of the work SSF is doing. One of the ultimate goals would be to build an adequate support infrastructure for the work that our PLEs do within SSF and the communities in which they live and work.
What motivated you to join SSF?
I am a person who experienced homelessness, food insecurity, and housing instability in my life. I was homeless from the age of 16 to 21 until I had an opportunity to receive support, housing, and education from Sacramento Job Corps. Over the years I have worked in healthcare, organized labor, as well as racial equity and social justice advocacy. I felt that taking everything I’ve been through, in addition to acquired skills and knowledge, and using it to help others was the dream opportunity.
What do you wish people knew about homelessness?
I want people to know that homlessness can happen to anyone at any time for a myriad of reasons. I want people to recognize that we live in a racially inequitable and socially unjust system that contributes to homelessness on many levels, and at disproportionate rates for black, brown, indegenous, LGBTQ+, transitional age youth, and persons with disabilities. I want people to recognize that housing is not a luxury that must be earned but a human right that everyone deserves.
What are you excited to do in your new role?
I am excited to see the work that we do and how we do it changes as we center the voices of those that have experienced homelessness, discrimination, and historical systemic trauma. There is no better way to serve than to listen to and learn from the communities that we are serving.
We honor the important on-the-ground work of our community’s service providers and encourage you to participate in discussions to ensure racially equitable solutions for ending homelessness in Sacramento.