The Life of a Homeless Woman
In 2016, there were nearly 500,000 homeless people in America alone. Compared to those hundreds of thousands, women represent one of the fastest growing demographics facing housing instability. In Denver Colorado in particular, there are over 11 thousand homeless individuals; of that 11 thousand, women constitute 45%. Therefore, in just one city, there are precisely 5,000 women struggling with homelessness, ultimately affecting how they live.
We had the opportunity to discuss this issue with Amanda, a woman facing this struggle on an everyday basis. She spoke to us that “the hardest thing about being homeless is not having anywhere to relax or to sit down because the cops bug you... It’s a felony to even use the bathrooms.” In Colorado, it is now illegal to be homeless. That means that these people who are homeless are being treated as criminals. But, this criminalization has done nothing to fix the ongoing problem and has, in fact, hurt the homeless communities more. Amanda claimed that she would spend her days at McDonalds because that was the only place that wouldn’t kick her out until the nighttime. Even with this, shelters are not an option for Amanda because she “can’t sit anywhere or sleep anywhere because the conditions are so bad. Every day our stuff gets stolen, and it puts women at risk.” After talking to Amanda, it was clear that with her situation as a homeless women, she is constantly forced into dangerous situations, ultimately giving her no option but to fight for her safety.
Ever since Amanda’s brother and best friend died on the same day 5 years ago, she has been homeless. All she wants is a home to share with her family. We asked Amanda about her children, and she told us, “I have contact with my kids and I visit them and they visit me.” However, she is on probation, meaning she can’t leave the state. This makes it difficult for Amanda to live with family, even in other states.
Statistically, homelessness is more likely to affect women than men. This can often be caused by violence and domestic abuse, forcing women to leave their homes despite having no where to go. When Amanda was asked what help could be given to ease the situation for women, she immediately responded that we need to “offer self-defense classes.” Women need protection, especially when living on the streets, and it was clear that this need had a personal effect on Amanda.
Homelessness isn’t going to be fixed overnight, but there are things everyone can do today to help stop it. Primarily, we need to spread awareness about homeless people’s situations and change the stereotypes surrounding the issue. Amanda stated that “when people drive by, they assume the worst out of us,” but by engaging in conversations, we are able to gain a sense of feeling and connection with these individuals. With this personal relationship with these individuals, we would be able to understand their situation, which is the first step in combating homelessness.