Leading the Midwest 1 in 4 Initiative is a significant and necessary undertaking for Sarah’s Circle. In order to effectively end homelessness for women, there must be more targeted research to understand the specific causes of homelessness and barriers to housing that adult, unaccompanied women face. Although we meet the immediate needs of clients, we must stay focused on permanent solutions to keeping women housed.
Details of the 1 in 4 Initiative
The 1 in 4 Initiative is a national effort built on regional partnerships and established by The American Roundtable to Abolish Homelessness. Its purpose is to create a dialogue, conduct research, formulate policies and advocate for targeted funding for unaccompanied women who are homeless. In the United States today, approximately 1 in 4 homeless adults are women. Homeless adult, unaccompanied women are understudied and underfunded compared to other parts of the homeless population, for example Veterans or youth.
Sarah’s Circle, along with representatives from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Deborah’s Place have formed the Leadership Team of the newly created 1 in 4 Initiative in Chicago.
The initial work of the 1 in 4 Initiative will be a comprehensive needs assessment for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. This effort will be managed by UChicago Urban Labs (www.urbanlabs.uchicago.edu) and is currently in the planning stage. The needs assessment will attempt to answer the following questions:
• What are the demographics and background characteristics of women experiencing homelessness in Chicago?
• How accessible are employment, health, housing, and community services for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago?
• What preferences do women experiencing homelessness in Chicago have for the types of employment, health, housing, and community services they receive?
• Is there variation in women’s preferences for employment, health, housing and community services based on their background and characteristics?
• What are the barriers that women experiencing homelessness in Chicago face in obtaining and maintaining employment, medical/healthcare services, housing, and a sense of belonging in the community?
• Does the health status of women experiencing homelessness correlate with housing, employment and community (experiencing a “sense of belonging”) outcomes?
• Does the sense of belonging (or lack of a sense of belonging) that women experiencing homelessness feel correlate with housing and employment outcomes?
Subsequent to the needs assessment, the Leadership Team will manage a convening of Chicago organizations, funders, and government representatives to disseminate the assessment results and create collaborative efforts to strengthen programming, increase housing options, and develop policy which is focused on unaccompanied women who are homeless in Chicago.