What do you see when you think of a homeless person?
I used to think of the “hobo” costumes popular in the Halloweens of my youth. I pictured all homeless people to be men with scruffy beards, odorific , and carrying a bandanna on a stick hopping on trains somewhere.
Later I assumed they were all men who slept on sidewalks and little old ladies in layers of housecoats pushing grocery carts.
I want you to see someone else. Why? Because, how can we fix a problem if we don’t really look at it and understand what we are dealing with? So, here are some facts for you to think about.
60% of single” women who are homeless and 41% of men are in fact parents, but only 65% and 7% , respectively, have their children currently with them.
“The vast majority of homeless families are headed by women alone who are extremely poor.Yet poverty alone does not fully account for women’s homelessness. Rather, poverty chips away at women’s protective resources, enabling the events of their lives to become catastrophes. Against a backdrop of minimum subsistence, motherhood (and single parenting in particular) may jeopardize a woman’s ability to maintain her home. “-By Paquette, Kristen; Bassuk, Ellen L.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Vol 79(3), Jul 2009, 292-298.
So where are the support systems to keep families together and healthy?
I don’t know because The Women’s Care Cottage near me just closed. CalWORKS helps some, but not enough to pay rent and the stigma of GAIN is prohibitive and so is the Skills Gap keeping these women from being employable.
When we sit down and plan ways to reduce homelessness, let us add in homeless parents to our definition of homeless folk.