Believe it or not, 67% of the homeless families in America are headed by a woman. Many of these women also have felony convictions.
Most of these families are led by mothers who are young and single, too.
Unfortunately, these women do not have a family support system, nor the means to provide themselves and children with material resources (I.e., items like food, clothing, and diapers).
American women who become homeless often do so because of domestic violence, poverty, and no access to healthcare or family planning.
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty currently estimates that at least 2.5 to 3.5 million Americans per year are sleeping in shelters, transitional housing, and public places that are not meant for human habitation.
About 7.4 million more individuals are displaced from their homes due to economic reasons, just as inability to find a job.
75% of extremely low-income households are unable to pay for necessities after paying their bills. This leaves them without money to pay for food, medicine, transportation, childcare, and other necessary materials.
Here are some of the most common reasons why a person becomes homeless:
Insufficient income and lack of affordable housing
Despite the efforts that are made by the government to provide for every concern that exists in each community, some people are still left without homes.
There are many resources for women who are in need of assistance.
Wondering how long you can stay at a homeless shelter?
That depends on the individual shelter and their regulations.
Most shelters do accept individuals who have a felony conviction and there is no background check needed.
For example, some shelters will only allow a stay of three to five days (30 days is standard). After the three to five days, the staff usually reviews your case and determines whether or not to extend your stay or end it.
Extended stays are certainly possible and are more likely to occur in youth shelters. For instance, Avenues for Youth in Minneapolis offers long-term residence to young people who are working towards their goals, such as enroll into a degree program; and for youths who live in Ramsey County, a 90-day stay is allowed at the Booth Brown House.
Adults do not favor as well as youth and children. Adult and emergency homeless shelters permit short stays.
To learn more about available shelters, contacts, and the possible length of the stay while in your situation, please use the tools provided by the Youth Services Networks.
What do homeless shelters provide?
Homeless shelters don’t exactly have the best reputation. In all honesty, many are viewed negatively because people don’t know or understand what it means to live in a homeless shelter.
It’s not feasible for every organization to provide the top-quality services one might expect, they do the best that they can to help those who are homeless and in need.
There are many programs that may be offered by a homeless shelter to support the homeless.
Some of these programs are, but are not limited to:
Homeless shelters organizations often set up a feeding program that is run on a regular basis. This program supports certain members of the community, such as, the elderly and abandoned children.
Most homeless shelters provide transient (temporary) homes. Some organizations have built shelters for the purpose of housing the homeless until they are back on their feet and able to live on their own. Residents are also taught how to deal with their current situation and improve their lives.
Homeless children are encouraged to participate in different activities, teaching them interpersonal and social skills, which will build their confidence and help in lessening their fearfulness of their circumstances.
Distribution of basic necessities:
With no access to shelter, the homeless are often sick, largely due to poor hygiene. They also lack the resources and health care products needed to maintain health and prevent the spread of disease.
Not only do homeless shelters provide individuals with basic necessities, they also teach them how to take care of themselves.
With the help of hospital sponsors and health professionals, homeless shelters are able to provide proper care and medication to those who have medical conditions.
Education is a main contributor to the suffering of homeless children. Homeless shelters provide these children with an education while also keeping them safe. Depending on the homeless shelter, there may also be buildings for each level of learning. In turn, these children experience more of a “school setting.”
Homeless shelters provide adults with opportunities that teach them skills that will help them in their job search.
They are also provided with different activities that mimics life in the real world, such as help with job interview skills.
The overall goal is to help homeless adults have their own job when they leave the shelter, allowing them to support themselves. However, people are not abandoned once they find a job and leave the shelter.
It is also required that seminars and workshops be attended to mold, and improve, their life skills and talents.
Homeless shelters provide assistance by helping the homeless who may have been addicted to illegal substances. These individuals are provided with the necessary medical attention, and psychological assistance that is needed to help return them to their normal selves and lives.
All homeless shelters offer a safe place for people, while also providing resources to better their situation; but they are not all run the same.
From the experiences of individuals who have lived in homeless shelters, you may be provided with any of the following:
A clean bed
A hot meal
Transportation (i.e., Bus Fare or Taxi Vouchers)
Help with job leads
Connections to obtain clothes for an interview
What you are provided with can also depend on whether the shelter is religious-based or civil- based. Some religious shelters only provide a bed, shower, and amenities. While other religious shelters may also provide 1-3 meals a day in addition to providing those whom need shelter with access to housing programs, and in some cases, even providing financial assistance.
Civic-based shelters, on the other hand, vary just as much as religious based shelters. However, civic homeless shelters are less likely to provide meals (unless they are partnered with hunger relief programs, like food banks and other food assistance programs).
The main purpose of these shelters is to provide the homeless with a place to sleep that is indoors, dry, and climate controlled. They have mandatory shower facilities for those who stay as well. Some shelters will also provide shoes, clothes, and personal hygiene items.
It can be expected that alcohol, drugs, weapons, and fighting are all prohibited. If you are staying in a shelter, they will make sure that you have some place to go before you depart. The guidance provided by these shelters isn’t cut-off the moment you walk out of the
Basic Rules at a Homeless Shelter
Homeless shelters aren’t the same as hotels but there are usually check-ins, which occur between 5pm and 7pm.
The staff provides you with clean towels, soap, a toothbrush, and toothpaste; and before you are able to access your bed, you will be required to take a shower (and brush your teeth, too, of course).
When you are ready for bed, you will be provided with a clean sheet and pillow. Shelters will allow individuals to stay for the night or a couple of days, and if you exceed the number of allotted days, you will need to pay for each night you stay after that.
What is an Emergency Shelter?
Emergency shelters are a place of temporary living for people who cannot live in their previous residence. Emergency shelters are similar to homeless shelters, but the main difference is that emergency shelters usually specialize in helping those feeling a specific kind of situation (i.e., natural or man-made disaster, domestic violence, victims of sexual abuse, etc.,).
Emergency shelters sometimes provide meals and/or facilitate support groups. Individuals who stay at emergency shelters are more likely to stay at the shelter all day, aside from work, school, or errands. On the other hand, homeless shelters often expect people to be elsewhere during the daytime, only to return to eat and sleep.
Emergency Assistance Shelter in MA
Emergency Assistance is a shelter system for the families of Massachusetts that is run by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
To be eligible, you must have low income and assets, and prove you live in the state of Massachusetts. One member of the family must also have legal status in the United States.
Pregnant women and children are eligible as well.
Applicants must show they are homeless because of domestic violence, fire, flood, natural disasters, or certain types of evictions where the applicant was not at fault.
Applicants who move from place-to-place or live-in unfit places (i.e., car or bus station) are also eligible. If all of the documents that the DHCD needs are received, and you comply with their rules and regulations, they will deem you “fully eligible” and you will be placed into a shelter.
However, if it looks like you are eligible BUT you only have documents that prove your identity and that you are a Massachusetts resident, the DHCD must provide you with temporary shelter placement, called “presumptive placement.” With presumptive placement, you will have 30 days to provide the DHCD with your missing required documents.
The Salvation Army Homeless Shelters and Transitional Housing
The Salvation Army prides itself on their efforts in providing shelter to the homeless 365 days a year. Through the Salvation Army, individuals have access and assistance to homeless shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and re-entry services.
Salvation Army Homeless Shelters: Local Salvation Army’s that operate homeless shelters provide a warm and safe place for men, women, and when possible, families.
While not all Salvation Army locations operate homeless shelters, the organization offers financial assistance, that is needed to cover the costs of emergency overnight housing elsewhere.
They may also refer individuals, who face housing and food insecurity, to partnering programs that do have emergency shelter services.
The Salvation Army’s transitional housing program offers help to homeless individuals who are temporarily displaced, chronically homeless, and the young adults who have aged out of the foster care system.
The temporary shelters provide these homeless individuals with food and a place to stay, while also providing them with the necessary resources and support that are needed to provide and sustain stability.
Permanent Supportive Housing:
The Salvation army provides long-term housing services to the homeless. These services include providing supportive facilities to the elderly, affordable housing programs for low-income seniors, apartment assistance for vulnerable and young adults, as well as dedicated living complexes for homeless adults and families.
There are thousands of local branches; the Salvation Army assists those on fixed incomes, those who struggle to get out from under the poverty line, and those who are fighting to give their kids a safe home.
Sources for Re-Entry:
The Salvation Army centers offer educational support, counseling and vocational services. These services are offered to the individuals, families, and vulnerable youths who are destitute.
On-site caseworkers help individuals meet their goals, gain self-sufficiency, and embrace responsibility.
As with other services provided by the Salvation Army, those who do re-enter and secure permanent housing, will continue to be helped as they maintain stability (this is often provided through emergency food and utility assistance).
WIN is the largest provider of shelter and supportive housing for families in New York City. In fact, WIN houses 10% of the homeless families in the city. Across New York City, WIN runs 12 homeless shelters and 335 supportive housing units.
Each night, WIN houses 4,700 people, including over 2,700 children, and in the last year, In 711 families were placed into permanent housing by WIN.
Out of the families WIN houses, 9 out of 10 are led by women, and in the last year, 9,200 people have called WIN “home.”
The overall mission of WIN is “to transform the lives of New York City homeless women and their children by providing the safe housing, critical services, and groundbreaking programs they need to succeed on their own.”
WIN offers individuals and families with transitional shelter housing and permanent supportive housing. With each, they provide programs and services to support long-term housing stability.
Rosie’s place is an overnight, emergency shelter that provides a place to stay for 20 women (for up to 21 days at a time). Women are able to sleep in a warm, safe bed, and have three meals a day.
They do not require guests to leave each morning; they allow women to stay longer in order to provide them with the necessary time needed to help them find stability and focus on long term solutions.
Rosie’s Place’s Overnight Program is open 365 days a year. Beds are available Monday through Friday at 8:00 am. Weekends and Holidays, beds are available at 10:00 am.
Once you select your state, you will be brought to a page that lists all of the cities in that state. Select the city you need, and it will bring you a list of all of the homeless shelters that are in that area.
Help For Homeless Women Without Children
Most of the assistance that is available for homeless women falls in one of two categories:
Shelters and services for mothers with children
Single women get lumped together with homeless men
Homeless women with children are the fastest growing homeless population. The focus, for good reason, has been largely on that of homeless women with children.
This unintended neglect has resulted in services being available for women without children to be far, and too few in
Homeless women who do not have a child are often left with the only option of staying in a shelter with a man (for most women, that is not an option, at all), and they avoid staying in shelters. The reality of homeless women is that the majority of them are victims of physical abuse and/or sexual violence.
Women who haven’t been abused by men or aren’t victims avoid homeless shelters, too. The avoidance of homeless shelters can put into motion a bad situation or make any already bad situation worse.
The difficulty lies in that these struggling women are homeless but somewhat invisible; they have limited access to homeless services, counseling, safe housing options, and support groups.
Services have been added and improved in the hope that women without children will no longer struggle alone. The continued education in understanding their situations and how they can not only be helped but also feel safe.
It is not an easy or simple task to overcome homelessness. The services and assistance these programs and organizations provide are vital to fighting homelessness and helping the individuals who are faced by it, themselves.
Please let us know in the comments below of homeless shelter resources you have used or places you have stayed that you found supportive and helpful.