Homeless Women: Demographics and Interventions

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Homeless Women: Demographics and Interventions
Typically I only see men on the streets begging; however the number of homeless women is increasing, especially homeless women with children. In this paper I will focus on homeless women by defining this issue and discussing the demographics of the women. I will address the types of interventions that have been implemented to help homeless women. Then I will discuss what research still needs to be done concerning homeless women. Finally, I will suggest which social services and social policies should be considered for further intervention and how these suggestions support the core social work values. Characteristics and Demographics

Homelessness can be defined as a person without a home. One cause of homelessness among women is domestic violence. Domestic violence within low income households has been reported as a primary cause of homelessness in women. Often times, women in low income housing who are a victim of domestic violence and find themselves with no where to go, do not have appropriate education or job skills to find employment. Other causes of homelessness can include mental illnesses, depression, and poor health (Chambers, 1999). These can lead to homelessness among women and restrict women in finding proper, affordable housing. The population of homeless women is made up of all ages, races, and ethnicities. Generally, most of the women come from low income households before they become homeless. An average homeless woman is about 35 years old with at least two children (Chambers, 1999). Living in shelters or on the street is hard enough alone, but when you have to take care of children at the same time it can make it even harder. Almost 58 percent of all homeless people are African American and 29 percent are Caucasian (Chambers, 1999). With the majority of homeless people being African American most homeless women are oppressed based on their race and gender. This does not help these women advance toward being able to afford appropriate housing because they are discriminated against. “[I]n the greater gender inequalities in wages in rural areas, where women workers make only 50% of men’s wages for comparable work” (Cummins, 1998). Females and minority races have been known to earn lesser wages than those of white males, which is discrimination and helps keep women in poverty and homeless. In a study comparing urban homeless women and rural homeless women, there were several similarities. A majority of the women had been involved in domestic assaults or family conflicts (Cummins, 1998). However, there were also differences. Urban homeless women were more likely to be substance abusers and they had more cases of mental illnesses. Rural homeless women had more cases of economic causes for becoming homeless (Cummins, 1998). Prevalence and Incidence

The best estimate of how many homeless people there are comes from the United States Census Bureau. This number is 1,300,311, or 16.7 percent of the total population. Out of this number, 597,038 of all homeless people are women (United States Census Bureau, 2000). It is hard to estimate the number of new cases every year because that number changes everyday. Women can go in and out of periods of homelessness through out the year, so it is hard to maintain a good estimate of who is actually homeless and who is not (United States Census Bureau, 2000). Private Troubles

For homeless women there are several private troubles that they may experience. Private troubles, what the individual goes through while experiencing problems (Longres, 2000), for homeless women can include several things. Homelessness among women subjects them to dangers on the streets or can lead to habits such as prostitution and drugs. Having to care for children would be another private trouble that homeless women would experience. Not being able to provide the basic necessities for ones children and...
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