Women and homelessness: the causes behind the crisis


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Homelessness is a dire situation for anybody to find themselves in. But within the wider of those affected, there are a number of people facing their own individual set of circumstances and challenges. Those from black and ethnic backgrounds for example, those from the LGBTQ+ communities, and, as we’ll be discussing in this blog, women. 

The 1st March marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, a yearly celebration of the contribution that women make, and have made, across our society. It seems only fitting then that we should take a closer look at women and homelessness, and the causes behind why we’re facing such a crisis. 

How many women are facing homelessness? 

It’s estimated (from street counts) that women make up anywhere between 15% and 20% of the total number of people sleeping rough. According to Shelter, 60% of all those currently in temporary accommodation are women - this is despite the fact that women make up only around 51% of the general population. 

The truth? No one really knows how many women are facing homelessness here in the UK or globally. The risks and challenges that they face mean that women are often part of the hidden homeless, concealed from view and harder to reach.  However, it’s important to know that there’s no way to know the true extent of how many women are 

Already marginalised 

For several reasons, women are often at a higher risk of financial struggles compared to men. Which can in turn leave them more vulnerable to homelessness. 

Socio-economic factors such as ongoing gender pay gaps, housing instability as a result of marital and relationship breakdown, and the struggle to meet the rising cost of living, are having an impact on women both when they’re young and in later life

Children and motherhood 

For some women who are experiencing homelessness, there’s so much present and historical trauma lying beneath the surface. Sometimes this involves having lost their children into the care system, or carrying the fear of homelessness as a parent, wondering how they’ll continue to put a roof over their children’s heads as well as feed and clothe them. 

Make no mistake though that life for women who are facing homelessness having never had children comes with its own difficulties too, leaving them with no access to resources that might only be available to families with children. 

Either way, there’s an added layer of suffering.  

Disproportionate experiences 

Whether women face homelessness as a result of experiencing domestic violence, or they experience domestic violence as a result of homelessness, the fact is that they have a disproportionate experience of gender-based abuse. This can take the form of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, violence and trafficking. 

As a result, many women fleeing these circumstances are often too fearful to access support, and remain hidden from view. This means that ultimately they have nowhere to go and no one to whom they can turn. 

Our approach 

Here at Simon on the Streets, we know that there’s no one single solution when it comes to the support that people facing homelessness need. That’s why we have such strong relationships with other local organisations and services, and why we take the time to talk with, listen to, and understand each individual that we support. 

Throughout March, we’ll be sharing lots of content about women, homelessness, and the challenges we’re aiming to help those we work with overcome. If you don’t already, now’s the time to follow us across our social channels, and to help us spread awareness of the very real impact homelessness can have. 

To find out more about the work we do and how you can help, all you need to do is get in touch. 

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