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Who We Serve

why women and children

Why Women and Children

Single women and mothers with children are the two fastest growing groups of people experiencing homelessness in the United States. By our estimate, 1,129,307 women experience homelessness annually–disproportionately impacting persons of color, Black and Latinx. This astounding number is matched and exceeded only by the pre-pandemic estimated 2.5 million children that experience homelessness each year. The pandemic has only exacerbated the levels of violence and homelessness for women and children.

 

The reason single women and mothers with children the two fastest growing groups of people experiencing homelessness in the United States is due to wide ranging historic and ongoing gender based violence and discrimination and other social inequities which disproportionately impact women, including women of color, women who are pregnant, single mothers with small children, youth (both parenting and unaccompanied), our LGBTQ+ mothers, sisters and daughters, and even our elders. They represent an estimated 34% of the population experiencing homelessness each year in our country.

 

For centuries, women have been regarded as the “lesser” gender. Prior to the implementation of gender-based protections (i.e. right to vote, right to work, right to own property), the status of women was undermined and fundamentally nonexistent. Nearly 200 years later, despite these breakthroughs, gender inequality continues to permeate. From unequal pay and underrepresentation in politics and policies, to unequal distribution of household labor and gender based violence, women continue to battle with a myriad of obstacles. These social and economic inequities have increased vulnerability and exposure to traumatic experiences, ultimately creating a pipeline to homelessness for women and children. With these structural factors contributing to a 41% increase in women experiencing homelessness, disproportionately impacting all women, it is evident that the fight for gender equality is far from over.

 

We focus our work on women because of the deep, pervasive inequities faced by women both historically and today in our society, because women’s work and role in society has been historically the least valued of all, because the majority of victims of gender based violence are women and girls.

 

We focus our work on their children too because we are mothers, the primary caregivers of the over 2.5 Million children who experience homelessness each year in the United States. Most children experiencing homelessness are between the tender age of birth and 6 years old, the most formative years of their lives, a time at which neural development is at its fastest. Homelessness is traumatic for everyone, but especially for children in the loss of family, neighborhood and family support, possessions and security. They are in the tow of beleaguered mothers too often single handedly managing the stressors of under-resourced homeless systems, desperate to feed, care for, find and keep employment, and keep their families intact.

 

At the intersection of historic racial, ethnic, gender, and social/economic discrimination and disparities, women’s inequities dive deepest. This is where we begin. “We” are the water bearers of the future, bringing forth and nurturing the next generation, the seed and promise of our collective future as a fair and equitable society.

testimonies from across the country

Testimonials

“I would call myself a survivor…and the Lotus House changed me completely, made me a totally different person. This program, it does work, it does help. And the things that they do here as far as helping with trauma, that’s amazing. It opened me up to know that I am the person that God said that I should be, today. ‘Cause back then I was so hurt and traumatized. But today I am the person that I should be, that I always know that I could be, and that I can do anything that’s possible. So this program… it does work.”  

Runisha Johnson
Guest Services Director / Alumn of the Lotus House Shelter

“Lotus House taught me patience.”

Korinthia Thomas, 27
Operations Manager/ Alumn of the Lotus House Shelter

“I was taken care of, it was a great experience. I had a lot of support, and Lotus House is my family. They’ve become my family, Junior’s family, at a time when I had no one. When I couldn’t pick up a phone and reach out to anyone, Lotus House, the counselors, everyone here, the staff, was my family.”

Sharonee Delevante, 33
Operations Director / Alumn of the Lotus House Shelter

Citations

“Health Care for Homeless Women.” ACOG. Accessed June 1, 2021. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2013/10/health-care-for-homeless-women#:~:text=three%20years%E2%80%9D%201.-,Statistics%20and%20Demographics,are%20headed%20by%20women%203. (citing The National Center on Family Homelessness. The characteristics and needs of families experiencing homelessness . Newton Centre (MA): NCFH; 2008. Available at:http://www.familyhomelessness.org/media/147.pdf. Retrieved May 29, 2013)

 

The combined number of reported women who enter shelters, both homeless (219,911) in addition to domestic violence shelters (909,396) equals 1,129,307.  See State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition. (2020, May 20). Retrieved February 08, 2021, from https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-2020/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA34OBBhCcARIsAG32uvPB9gF-94zMirySWNbwIq4rB6DsJzGF4ZO67alWvDpZDQShoLC8WUIaArnfE ALw_wcB (stating that 3,255 made up the transgender population and 1,362 made up the gender non-conforming population); see also Number of people using domestic violence shelters by state. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.domesticshelters.org/data-center/state-reports-and-rankings/people-using-domestic-violence-shelters-by -state.

 

“Homelessness and Racial Disparities.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, April 1, 2021. https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/what-causes-homelessness/inequality/. (stating that “the most striking disparity can be found among African Americans, who represent 13 percent of the general population but account for 39 percent of people experiencing homelessness and more than 50 percent of homeless families with children.”); see also Moses, Joy. “Demographic Data Project: Race, Ethnicity, and Homelessness.” National Alliance to End Homelessness. Homelessness Research Institute, 2018. https://endhomelessness.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/3rd-Demo-Brief-Race.pdf. (demonstrating that “54 Black people per 10,000 are homeless and 20 Hispanic/Latinx people per 10,000 are homeless compared to 11 homeless White people per 10,000”).

 

US Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Child Homelessness: A Growing Crisis. SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/child-homelessness-growing-crisis.; See also National Center on Family Homelessness. American Institutes for Research. (2018, September 27) https://www.air.org/center/national-center-family-homelessness.

 

Child homelessness: A growing crisis. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/child-homelessness-growing-crisis. Lotus House alone saw a 17.5% increase in the number of sheltered women and children in 2020 due to the pandemic. Overcoming their fear of entering a shelter during the pandemic, Lotus House recorded a 37.6% increase in the percentage of sheltered women with domestic violence in 2020 compared with 2019. 494 women or 82% of the total number of women who were victims of crime in 2020, compared to a composite total of 556 or 70% from 2018-2019 (already an extraordinarily high number), experienced domestic violence. We note in particular, 35 or 6% of our sheltered women in 2020 were victims of human trafficking contrasted with 16 or 3% in 2019, resulting in an increase of 118% in human trafficking victims served over the prior year. These numbers highlight how the pandemic has contributed to an increase in both homelessness and domestic violence, a lead cause of homelessness.

 

Health Care for Homeless Women.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Women’s Health Care Physicians. Accessed March 9, 2021. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2013/10/health-care-for-homeless-wome n#. (stating that “[w]omen and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with 34% of the total homeless population composed of families. Of these homeless families, 84% are headed by women.”) see also The National Center on Family Homelessness. The characteristics and needs of families experiencing homelessness. Newton Centre (MA): NCFH; 2008. https://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Whois.pdf.

 

“Increases in Individual Homelessness: A Gender Analysis.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, June 4, 2020. https://endhomelessness.org/increases-in-individual-homelessness-a-gender-analysis/.

 

An estimated 25.5 million women (21.3%) in the U.S. have reported completed or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime.“NISVS 2010 Summary Report – Sexual Violence by Any Perpetrator.” National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Accessed March 15, 2021. https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics#:~:text=The%20self%2Dreported%20incidence%20of,the%20United%20States%20in%202018. National studies show: 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners; 72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners and 94% of all murder-suicide victims are female. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org/statistics. One in five or 16.3% of murder victims in the United States were killed by an intimate partner; women account for two out of three of those murder victims. www.domesticshelters.org/resources/statistics/homicide-and-injury-from-domestic-violence.

Child homelessness: A growing crisis. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/child-homelessness-growing-crisis.

CITATIONS

[1] (See State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition. (2020, May 20). Retrieved February 08, 2021, from https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-2020/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA34OBBhCcARIsAG32uvPB9gF-94zMirySWNbwIq4rB6DsJzGF4ZO67alWvDpZDQShoLC8WUIaArnfEALw_wcB (stating that 3,255 made up the transgender population and 1,362 made up the gender non-conforming population); see also Number of people using domestic violence shelters by state. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.domesticshelters.org/data-center/state-reports-and-rankings/people-using-domestic-violence-shelters-by-state
 
[2] US Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Child Homelessness: A Growing Crisis. SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/child-homelessness-growing-crisis
National Center on Family Homelessness. American Institutes for Research. (2018, September 27). https://www.air.org/center/national-center-family-homelessness
 
[3] Child homelessness: A growing crisis. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/child-homelessness-growing-crisis
 
[4]  “Data Visualization: Gender and Individual Homelessness.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, December 30, 2019. https://endhomelessness.org/resource/data-visualization-gender-disparities-in-homelessness/
 
 
[5]  “HOMELESSNESS IN AMERICA: Focus on Families with Children .” United States Interagency Council on Ho, September 2018.
 
[6]  Fraser, Brodie, Nevil Pierse, Elinor Chisholm, and Hera Cook. “LGBTIQ+ Homelessness: A Review of the Literature.” International journal of environmental research and public health. MDPI, July 26, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6695950/