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SPARC tackles racism and homelessness in Syracuse

Homelessness in Syracuse is an ongoing issue John Tumino knows well. He's been working with the homeless for the past six years through his non-for-profit In My Father's Kitchen.

"We've helped 61 individuals off the street. We've done a number of lunches and met thousands of people," says Tumino.

John believes the city's new SPARC initiative will create more of a discussion in the county.

"It's going to rally the existing homeless community together. I'm hoping a light is going to shine on systems throughout all of the organizations, then it's up to directors to set up new systems to make sure we don't have this issue."

Syracuse is one of 10 cities in the nation chosen to participate in the Center for Social Innovation SPARC project on racism and homelessness.

"Syracuse, like many cities across the United States, has an over-representation of people of color in the homeless population," says President of Center for Social Innovation Jeff Olivet.

Which is why Olivet and his team are introducing and implementing the initiative.

"In all of our cities we are looking to collect oral histories from folks of color who are experiencing homelessness and analyzing those for the pathways in and the barriers to exit," says SPARC team member Marc Dones. "We hope to be able to use that to assemble a complete national picture of what is happening that offers clear guidance on how to move forward."

The Center for Social Innovation expects to have results from the SPARC Syracuse initiative and a plan for action by this Fall.

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