Self-Reports about Homelessness: Single Women with Children

Kristen J. Pederson, Augsburg College


The number of homeless families is on the rise. In 1989 more than 60,000 families nationwide, four times the number recorded in 1 984, were in homeless shelters. Seventy to ninety percent of homeless families are headed by women. To better understand the causes of homelessness this study obtained self-reports from 1 6 women with children residing in a metropolitan homeless shelter. An exploratory study was conducted using a questionnaire that gathered quantitative and qualitative data regarding demographics, reasons for homelessness, and preventative measures. Consistent with other research, the findings indicate varied reasons for homelessness including : circumstantial events, lack of relational support, lack of community support, and lack of self-knowledge. Recommendations for solutions to homelessness include providing a diverse array of services in shelters and in the community that support and empower the people who are homeless to improve their situations. Changes in public policy are needed to provide these services.