Every year 600,000 families with 1.35 million children experience homelessness.
Homeless families are the fastest-growing segment of homeless people. In other words, making up about 40 percent of the homeless population on any given night.
Subsequently, it has also been studied that homeless women are almost five times more likely to become pregnant than housed women.
Two generations are at a risk when a homeless woman becomes pregnant
A woman is left with three choices; parent the child, terminate the pregnancy or place the child for adoption.
Young girls are more prone to unplanned pregnancies as a result of rejection from the partner, family, and friends. Secondly, they do not have a stable source of income or education to find a job.
Without safe shelters, there is tremendous physical and emotional stress on the pregnant women. It endangers their health and that of their unborn child. Most importantly, it can cost up to $233,610 to raise a child until 18 years of age in United States.
Pregnancy is often unplanned and unwanted for a majority of homeless women
For a vast majority of the homeless women, pregnancy is unplanned and unwanted. Secondly, 30% of these women reported being forced into sex and engaging in “survival sex” for food, money, shelter, or drugs.
When mothers are forced to give up a baby, most experience chronic, and unresolved grief.
If you have nowhere to stay
You can make a homeless application to a local council if you are homeless and pregnant. Therefore, the Council is legally responsible to provide a temporary home or a permanent accommodation depending upon your case.
If you are likely to lose your accommodation in next two months, you have the right to seek help from local council.
What can we do to help pregnant homeless women?
Life can be a series of traumatic events when you are living on the streets and expecting a child. Above all, these women are fleeing from abusive partners and dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.
On the other hand, they have no support from family or friends.
As the challenges are unique, there are diverse ways we can help homeless women;
- Donate maternity clothes, prenatal vitamins, and other medicines
Most importantly, one should be considerate of the fact that a homeless women is helpless. If you have access to pregnancy medications or spare maternity clothes, new born clothes, offer them to the homeless women.
- Volunteer time, money or resources to organizations working for pregnant homeless women
There are government agencies, Churches, NGOs, and private organizations which closely monitor homeless women. By volunteering through your time, money, or other resources, you can help them.
- Sponsor their unborn children for education
A lack of stable income is the most challenging aspect of homelessness as a single parent. If you can sponsor their children’s education, one generation would escape the vicious cycle of homelessness
- Acknowledge and Engage
Above all, homelessness can be extremely isolating and depressing for women. We should acknowledge them on the streets, share a smile, listen to their stories, and start a conversation.
- Help them find a place to live
Most of the young mothers are unaware of their rights as a citizen. The Council is legally responsible to provide a temporary home or a permanent accommodation to pregnant women.
In other words, homeless pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to multiple forms of victimization. The shelters for women are unsafe for both expecting mothers and newborns. Consequently, they have reported extreme physical and mental violence inside the safe homes.