It is Women’s History Month, and we would like to take a moment to recognize the critical services that our Housing Transitions Program (HTP) has been providing for women experiencing houselessness over the past 15 years.
HTP continues to fill a unique gap in homeless services by working with women who are over the age of 25 and who do not have children in their care. Many years ago, Catholic Charities recognized the unique barriers to social services for these women, and felt it was imperative to provide services for them.
When HTP first opened its doors in 2006, women without children were (and still are) one of the largest growing populations of people experiencing houselessness. While there seem to be many resources in the community for women experiencing houselessness, there is often the caveat that women must have children in their care to qualify for said services.
Women who are single and living on the streets are often subjected to violence from strangers, and other houseless community members. It is not uncommon for these women to find partners out of necessity, not because the relationship is healthy, but because their partners can keep them safe from other violence.
The most common reason women end up experiencing houselessness is due to domestic violence. Some of the associated impacts of domestic violence include isolation from family and friends, interference with employment from the abuser, financial exploitation, brain injury, and PTSD; all of which put women at further risk of houselessness. Additionally, women who are in a domestic violence situation and do not have children often become houseless because they are ineligible for Domestic Violence grants from the Department of Human Services. These types of grants are only available to women with children in the home.
On average women make 80% of the income when compared to the earned income of men. This, conflated with the other barriers these women are facing, means finding affordable housing on their own income can be more challenging. HTP is able to offer assistance with move-in costs for women who can pay ongoing rent either through their own income source or through a grant/voucher they have received for rental assistance. HTP also offers 1:1 employment services to connect these women to opportunities where they can earn their own income.
While change does not happen overnight, HTP is there to walk alongside these women as they transition from living on the streets to being rehoused and achieving their personal goals. HTP provides community for their clients by meeting them where they are and seeing their humanity. HTP addresses immediate needs while working with clients toward long-term solutions. Drop-in services include showers, laundry, lunches, and other critical items to help these women survive until they can become re-housed.
HTP is a wonderful hub for information and resources for these women, through its connections with other service providers. We are so appreciative of the Housing Transitions staff for their commitment to their clients and the compassion, care, and friendship they share with the women of the HTP community each and every day.