Gender and homelessness in America
Start writing a post

A Look At How Gender Is Impacting Homelessness In America

We often ignore that the needs of homeless women and transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals are different, and we need to fix that.

409
https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-human-lying-on-ground-covered-of-cardboard-box-1060365/
THE COLLAB

553,742 people. That's how many people experience homelessness on a given night in the United States according to the 2017 Annual Homelessness Report to Congress developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We know that homelessness is an issue in our country, but what we don't often stop to think about is how gender impacts homelessness.

Earlier this semester I had the chance to travel to Miami with a group of students on a service trip that was facilitated by my college to focus on issues of food security, youth empowerment, and homelessness. On our second day we did some service at Lotus House, which is a beautiful live-in facility that takes in women and their children while they are experiencing homelessness until they can find stable housing elsewhere and support themselves again.

This facility really impressed me and had a lot of amenities such as a classroom for the women prepping for job interviews and getting their GRE, and an art room for the children. As we toured the facility I was definitely caught off guard by how nice it was, but we quickly learned that there are few like it in the country and they are very lucky to have government funding as well as big-name donors. It's not particularly easy to come by that sort of funding, so many shelters are left rundown and don't have the tools to help the residents find stable employment and housing or whatever they may need in their situation.

The fact is that homeless women typically don't find such great temporary residences or can't get in because of waiting lists and they face incredibly challenging struggles either on the street or in other shelters that homeless men don't necessarily have to worry about. According to the same 2017 report, 61% of homeless individuals in the United States are men, 39% are women, and less than 1% are transgender or gender nonconforming.

Looking at these numbers, we can see that men experiencing homelessness quite significantly outweigh the women. And here is a big part of the problem. Since women and transgender/ gender non-conforming individuals are the minority in this population, it is easy to ignore the fact that they experience particular issues and dangers that men in the same situation are far less likely to face. Being a woman or someone outside the gender binary creates a different reality for homeless individuals, introducing added difficulties, expenses, and dangers.

For instance, women are highly likely to experience violence, with 54% of participants in a survey for women with lived experiences of homelessness having experienced some form of violence or threat to their safety. These forms of violence included things such as being forced to do something under threat, sexual abuse or assault, hate crimes, physical assault or attack, robbery, burglary, or being a victim of any other crime. It has also been reported that fleeing domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children.

Another experience that women experiencing homelessness are forced to face far more often than men in a similar position is the act of survival sex, sexual assault including rape, and sex trafficking. Survival sex is defined as trading sexual acts in return for some sort of good such as money, food, drugs or alcohol, or housing. A 2017 DC Women's Needs Assessment Report stated that 29% of participants engaged in survival sex in their lifetime, 28% have been forced to commit a sexual act with another, and 36% have been trafficked. As high as these numbers may seem, it can be assumed that this is still an undercount of women who have had these traumatizing experiences because of some have been lost to these heinous acts of violence and some were not able to come forth.

It is also very difficult for these women to acquire menstrual products since most shelters don't have the funds to provide them to residents. These products are pricey enough that this can often be a decision between a meal or a box of pads. Women will often have to use tattered pieces of cloth or toilet paper to help with their blooding instead of sanitary products, which increases the risk of infection. Additionally, women have to handle expenses that come along with pregnancy and proper maternal care, which is often not possible for them resulting in increased chances of adverse births. This is especially problematic because homeless women are also more likely to have unintended pregnancy due to lack of sexual education, lack of access to proper contraceptives, and forced sex.

These women need more safe housing and shelters need to have access to more funding in order to provide the necessary services these women require in order to better their lives for themselves and their children if they have any. Most of them have faced so much trauma that it's nearly impossible to do this on their own, so it is crucial that both public and private institutions, as well as general citizens, take the initiative to raise awareness and lend a hand. Homelessness is something anyone can struggle with, regardless of gender, but we cannot go on pretending that men, women, and transgender or gender non-conforming individuals all have the same needs.

From Your Site Articles
Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

I love listening to Christmas music just as much as the next person, but when I turn on my local holiday radio station each year, it just feels repetitive. No hate to musicians like Burl Ives or Nat King Cole, but Christmas music needs an update. Personally, I'm tired of the same "Let It Snow" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". So plug in your Christmas tree, make some hot cocoa, and listen to these amazing (and updated) holiday songs.

Keep Reading... Show less

With the holidays right around the corner, there are many things to look forward to. Time with family, friends, great food, overall seasonal joy... And now the fragrances from Jennifer Lopez.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10 Christmas Songs For Your Festive Playlist

I have no shame in starting to feel festive super early.

1610

All of these songs are definitely popular. However, I have the strong opinion that having the songs on your Christmas playlist be popular is extremely important. Having everyone sing to the songs is most of the fun; it adds to the festivity of whatever you're doing.

Personally, I love to bake cookies and hum along as I cannot sing and no one should ever hear me. Whatever you do for the holidays, enjoy your festive time and the season!

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10​​ Songs That Made It Onto My November Playlist

Another month of finding new music during unusual times

28140

A new month means new music! Like each month, I've collected my top 10 new songs or discoveries into a playlist. This November didn't have too many new releases, however, I did find a few and a couple of new discoveries.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

7 Christmas Ideas For Couples That You Can Still Do In The Middle Of A Global Pandemic

The holidays are such a fun time to celebrate with loved ones; here are a few activities to consider being a part of during this Christmas season.

19311
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Whether it is a night in at home baking sweet Christmas themed goodies for Santa, or a night out exploring lit up neighborhoods, the holiday season should always be taken advantage of for cute activities!

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Every Track On Ariana Grande's 'Positions' Album Ranked

Ariana Grande has achieved major success with her new album and we're ranking every track.

47521

Ariana Grande surprised fans in October, tweeting that her new album was being released. What followed was yet another number one peak on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album's title track and lead single, "Positions," also hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

With "Positions," Grande took a much more light-hearted approach than the confessional nature of its predecessor, "Thank U, Next." It was a welcome and refreshing change of pace. Now that the album has been out for a solid month, it's the perfect time to see how the songs rank.

Keep Reading... Show less
FOX

In the four Christmas' that I have spent with my boyfriend, I have realized one thing: boys are hard to shop for. Each year I have to rack my brain for gift ideas because when I ask my boyfriend what he wants for Christmas, he always says something along the lines of "nothing," which as a girl is hard to fathom since I literally give him a list each year before Black Friday.

After hours each year scouring the internet for the perfect Christmas gifts to get my boyfriend, I have come up with a pretty long and inclusive list. To help those girlfriends going through the same thing, I decided to put together some of the best gifts I have come across.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

10 Ways You Can Safely Enjoy The Holidays During The Pandemic

Even with a pandemic, there are still ways to celebrate.

14537

It's almost December, which means that it's almost time for the biggest holiday season to arrive! However, it doesn't mean that COVID-19 has decided to disappear. According to the CDC, 147,840 new cases of COVID have been recorded in the last seven days.

States such as Kentucky have closed all of their restaurants, schools, and businesses until December. Some governors have started to advise caution when celebrating the holidays, too. You may be thinking, 'is there any way to really enjoy Christmas during the pandemic?' In fact, there are ways to still celebrate the holiday safely. Here are 10 ways that you can still enjoy the holiday season without canceling any of your plans.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments