Homelessness emerged as a national issue in the1870's (Kusmer, 2002). At that time in American history, African-Americans made up less than 10% of the population and although there were no national figures documenting the demography of the homeless population, some sources suggest that African-Americans represented a very small segment of the homeless population. As a matter of fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, the typical person experiencing homelessness was white, male, and in his 50s (Kusmer, 2002).
Since that time, however, the scope and demographic makeup of the problem have changed dramatically. Not only do families with children now comprise 41% of the homeless population (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2006), but 42% of the population is African American. The composition of the average homeless family is a single parent household headed by an African-American female (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2004).