As the world marks International Women’s Day, it’s an important moment not just to consider and thank all the women who are working in our sector – whether as service managers, trainers, support workers, peer workers, advocates, frontline workers, among many others – but to also recognise the journeys of the clients who use services like Housing First.
There are a number of specific challenges faced by women experiencing homelessness. Women have different paths into and out of homelessness and a significant number have histories of trauma and abuse, both prior to and during their experiences of being homeless, including being particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
Another important factor to note is that mothers are a growing demographic among people experiencing homelessness. In the context of family homelessness, the family unit is most commonly (though not exclusively) composed of a single mother and her children – who may or may not be in the mother’s care. Yet in many cases, traditional service structures are still designed for men and don’t have the resources to accommodate the different needs of women, whether as individual clients or mothers with children.
These are just a few examples of the considerations to be taken into account when assessing ways to improve homeless services for women in Europe and beyond. For more information, we highly recommend the Erasmus+ Women and Homelessness (2019-2021) project, of which our founding members FEANTSA and Y-Foundation are both partners.
For further reading, we’ve collected together some additional resources from our network and will be further exploring this topic in relation to Housing First later this year – keep an eye on our social media and events pages for more information.
Recommended Reading & Resources:
Housing First for Women
- Webinar: Providing Housing First for Women (Homeless Link)
- Toolkit: Housing First for women experiencing violence against women and girls (Homeless Link)
- Aubry, T.(2020) Analysis of Housing First as a Practical and Policy Relevant Intervention: The Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions for Research European Journal of Homelessness 14(1), pp. 13-26.
- Oudshoorn, A. et al. (2018). An evaluation of a Housing First program for chronically homeless women. Journal of Social Inclusion, 9(2), 34-50.