Homelessness, Housing Insecurity, and Racial and Ethnic Equity during COVID-19

Two keynotes hosted by the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health and the PSU Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative on Sept. 13, 2021


A novel disease swept across the globe last year, killing nearly a half million people in the United States in its first year alone. The disease led to record unemployment and deepening racial and ethnic inequities across the country. People experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity and in particular people of color experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, have faced some of the most serious health risk factors: overcrowding, lack of access to hygiene, public-facing jobs, and underlying illnesses. People of Color are, and have been, disproportionately impacted due to historic and persistent structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism.

This virtual symposium brings together researchers, practitioners, advocates, and people with lived experience to answer: 1) What have we learned about addressing homelessness and housing insecurity during the COVID-19 response, particularly for people of color ; and 2) Given the profound uncertainty of what happens next, what should we be prepared for going forward to best support people of color experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity?

In this one-day symposium, we will hear a range of perspectives informed by formal and completed research, works in progress, and stories from the field. Presentations include public keynote addresses on critical issues shared via livestream and smaller sessions geared toward researchers. Presentations will emphasize the research, policy, and advocacy implications of the identified topics. Each presentation will speak to racial and ethnic equity.


9:00 a.m.  Welcome

  • Land acknowledgment and welcome from Dr. Marisa Zapata, Director, PSU Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative
  • Keynote Speaker Introduction by Dr. David Bangsberg, Dean, OHSU/PSU School of Public Health

9:20 a.m. Keynote and Q&A

  • Dr. Margot Kushel, Director, UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative followed by facilitated Q&A

10:20-12:40 Break for small group presentations and discussions

12:40 p.m.  Keynote

  • Dr. Rashida Crutchfield, Executive Director, Center for Equitable Higher Education, California State University, Long Beach with an introduction by Dr. Stephen Percy, President, Portland State University. Facilitated Q&A to follow.

At the end of the event, participants will possess a deeper understanding of approaches to the intersection of racial and ethnic equity, and homelessness, housing insecurity, and COVID-19, as well as what to anticipate as the twin crises of illness and economic insecurity continue to unfold.



Dr. Margot Kushel is a Professor of Medicine at University of California San Francisco, Division Chief and Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, and Director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. She is a practicing general internist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Margot’s research focuses on the causes and consequences of homelessness and housing instability, with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness and ameliorating the effects of homelessness on health. Her NIH funded research focuses on aging in the homeless population. She works closely with government bodies, non-profits and communities impacted by homelessness to bring forward solutions that center racial and housing justice. She serves as a Board member of Housing California. 


Dr. Rashida Crutchfield is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach and the newly founded Center for Equitable Higher Education, which is dedicated to studying and promoting economic, food, and housing justice. Dr. Crutchfield was a Principal Investigator for the California State University Office of the Chancellor study on food and housing security. Her work has been instrumental in the development of programs and services for students experiencing housing and food insecurity at all 23 CSU campuses. Dr. Crutchfield has authored or co-authored many articles, including The starving student narrative: How normalizing deprivation reinforces basic need insecurity in higher education. Co-authored with Drs. Ronald Hallett and Jennifer Maguire, her text Addressing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education: Strategies for Educational Leaders is used as a manual for developing programs and services to support student basic needs across the country.

This event made possible through the generous support of Richard Royse and Rocky Blumhagen.

 Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative
 Portland State University
 Post Office Box 751 - HRAC                              
 Portland, Oregon 97207-0751                           
 Richard & Maurine Neuberger Center                 
 1600 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 425A
 Portland, OR 97201
Symposium Contact:
 Stefanie Knowlton
 503-725-2150 tel