As we enter the millennium, growing numbers of women and children join the ranks of the homeless around the globe. 1 Common factors contributing to homelessness include the feminization of poverty, a shortage of affordable low-income housing and welfare policies focused on short-term relief. Unique factors include war and political upheaval that produce a mobile population of refugees who are homeless.
In thinking about the corning millennium, feminists are challenged to envision a future where the economics and politics of gender do not inevitably produce poverty and homelessness. Homelessness in women's lives is both a symptom and an outcome of their economic dependence within the private household and the wage-labour market. Women become homeless when relationships end and economic support is withdrawn, labour does not generate a "living wage," illness drains the family resources, or other factors intersect to make them vulnerable. In addition, homelessness often occurs in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, and man-made disasters such as wars. Women and children are the most visible among the displaced; in Central America 90 percent of the families living in refugee camps are headed by women. 2
Reclaiming the Future: Women’s Strategies for the 21st Century
Feltey, Kathryn and Laura Nichols. 1999. The Only Thing You Really Got is this Minute: Homeless Women Re-visioning the Future. In Reclaiming the Future: Women’s Strategies for the 21st Century, S. Brodribb (Ed.). Canada: Gynergy Books.
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Copyright © 1999 CSPI/Women’s Press. Reprinted with permission.