Ending Homelessness for Women
Sarah's Circle provides a full continuum of services for women, including housing, life necessities, and supportive services to help them permanently end their homelessness. Sarah's Circle envisions a safe and secure home for every woman in Chicago.
Why Women Only?
Women become homeless for different reasons than men, have gender-specific needs while they are homeless, and will become housed and stay housed through different services than men. Sarah's Circle has been serving women who are homeless or at a risk of homelessness in Uptown for over 40 years. By providing gender-sensitive, trauma-informed services specifically for women, we are helping Chicago's most vulnerable women rebuild their lives.
Women Become Homeless for Different Reasons than Men
As of the 2010 census, women working full time in the United States continued to earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.
Domestic Violence is the direct cause of homelessness in approximately one in five women who are homeless.
Even when violence is not the direct cause of homelessness, a history of traumatic experiences contributes to homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women. Approximately 56% of women who are homeless have been sexually assaulted; this is more than three times the rate for homeless men and for women in the general population. Research shows a strong correlation between frequency and seriousness of past victimization and diagnosis of mental illness as well as reported drug and alcohol problems. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
Women Need Gender-Specific Services in Order to Become and Stay Housed
Trauma-informed Services for Women are Gender-Specific
Because people experiencing PTSD tend to avoid things that remind them of past trauma, in order to reach the many women with a history of trauma perpetrated by men, services need to be provided in settings for women-only. Furthermore, mixed-gender services, including therapy groups, present greater risks for sexual harassment and assault, and can invite interactions that are reminiscent of perpetrator – victim relationships.
Unique Psychosocial Issues
Even during episodes of housing instability, women physically, psychologically, and socially deal with pregnancy, menstrual cycles, motherhood, and menopause. Relationships, caregiving, and gender role expectations have particular significance for women as catalysts for both problems and solutions. Women physically respond differently than men to substance use and other issues.
Resources for Women
Sarah’s Circle is the only homeless service provider in Uptown and one of few in the City of Chicago providing gender-sensitive, trauma-informed services specifically for women.
Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women (Jasinski, Wesely, Wright, & Mustaine) http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Lives-Mean-Streets-Northeastern/dp/1555537219.
Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women (SAMHSA TIP 51) http://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-51-Substance-Abuse-Treatment-Addressing-the-Specific-Needs-of-Women/SMA13-4426.
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers (Department of Labor Women’s Bureau) http://www.dol.gov/wb/trauma.