HOMELESS: BY GENDER
Homelessness among women is often a hidden problem and hence the true scale is difficult to estimate accurately. Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness…
- In Europe, the number of women seeking assistance due to lack of a home appears to be rising totalling (as a very rough guide) around 1/5 to 1/4 of users of homeless services and around 7%-10% of street homeless;
- some countries report an increase in homelessness among women. In Belgium, for example, a recent survey indicates that women represent 1/3 of homeless service users compared to less than 1/5 twenty years ago. This increase could, in part, be attributed to an increasing visibility of homelessness arising from domestic abuse. However, in a number of countries (e.g. Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands) refuge services for women experiencing domestic abuse are counted separately from homeless statistics;
- according to the report “Out of Sight, Out of Mind?”, domestic violence is the main cause of homelessness among women in England. A report by the charity Crisis found that 63% of homeless women aged between 30 and 49 said domestic abuse was the key reason they had lost their homes. Over 50% of these women had slept rough, the majority on more than one occasion – despite the fact that this made them vulnerable to rape and abuse; (1)
- in Austria there is evidence that a higher proportion of the young homeless are women - perhaps as many as 58% of young homeless in Salzburg are female;
- in Spain, unemployment (63%) and family breakdown (26%) are the main causes for homelessness. The last one especially among women. The number of homeless women has increased by 11% in the last 10 years; (2)
- in 2001, in the United States approximately 50% of all homeless women and children were experiencing homelessness because they were fleeing domestic violence. The general profile of homeless people in USA is that of people in their mid-thirties, low-income workers and mid-20s mothers; (3)
- 10% of the homeless in Tokyo are women; (4)
- in the Russian Federation, the problem of homelessness is only recently being recognised. A sociological survey, carried out at the end of the ‘90s, estimated the number of homeless persons to be around 10 million. Some 5-6 million of these were adults and the rest children. Some 30% of the adults are women. (1)
(2) Share International, November 1998.
(3) Hertzberg, 1992.
(5) FEANTSA, 1999; www.feantsa.org