This season, we’ve seen increased numbers of women using Just A Warm Sleep so we thought we’d take a moment to explore gender and homelessness.
It is said that most of us, unless living amongst the 1%, are only a few unfortunate events away from experiencing homelessness. Sometimes the only saving grace is having a support system to be there in those hard times.
We know not everyone is so lucky.
Not having a consistent place to call home is unfortunately the reality for many people in Winnipeg. Although less represented visibly in terms of shelter usage and “rough” sleeping, women, non-binary, trans, and LGBTQ+ experience homelessness at similar rates as often visibly overrepresented cisgender men.
Couch surfing, staying at friends or even strangers houses, and staying with an abuser are just some examples of hidden homelessness that are often experienced disproportionally by women. The experiences of women with hidden homelessness are often dismissed or forgotten, or unknown by many people due to invisibility and difficulty to track. Overlooking these experiences can lead to gender-blind policies and programming, that can lock not only women but LGBTQ+, trans, and non-gender conforming people into a cycle of poverty, homelessness, and despair.
What is being done?
More attention is being paid to the unique experiences of these groups of people, which can push policy and systems in place to help people experiencing homeless into changing the requirements for assistance that is inclusive of forms of hidden homelessness. Topics like this were discussed at our Walk A Mile In My Shoes fundraiser this last fall.
What can we do?
At 1JustCity, we work hard to meet people where they’re at and foster a sense of dignity, being the support networks many need to assist them in the tough times that make them vulnerable to homelessness. We continue to build an inclusive and judgment-free space that welcomes all identities of people, but recognize that there is always room to do more to help our more vulnerable guests. Maybe someday this will look like having separate spaces in overnight shelters for people to feel comfortable. Maybe it will look like having more specific programming for women, trans, LGBTQ+, and non-binary folks to build community. However it may look, we are committed to reaching the needs of all folks who experience all forms of homelessness.