- Desiree Clark
The Homeless Single Mother
Many women go into motherhood knowing they are going to be a single parent. But no woman ever wants to go through motherhood without having a home for her and her babies. Unfortunately, this happens. Evictions, lack of affordable housing, and domestic violence are just a few reasons why single mothers experience homelessness.
In the United States, 25% of renters spend more than 50% of their income on rent and utilities. Now imagine a single mother having a pay for diapers, clothing, and childcare. All it would take is one unexpected event to lead to an eviction, because nearly 40% of Americans can not cover a $400.00 unexpected expense. This could look like a vet bill, extra childcare throughout the month, a higher water bill, and the list goes on. That expense becomes a slippery slope that is hard to get off of. The expense gets paid but rent does not. All of a sudden, there is an eviction notice and the single mother and her children are forced to leave. This happens more than you would think. Monroe county had 18 judgements for eviction in 2022. That's 18 people who lost their home. One of those was a single mother.
Now imagine playing musical chairs. There are 10 people for 9 chairs. One person, weighed down by the fact that they are experiencing homelessness as a single mother, does not make it to a chair. Is it the mothers problem that she didn't get a chair, or the lack of chairs? The same can be said for affordable housing. Homelessness is supply and demand. Without enough affordable homes, not everyone has a place to live. Homes that do exist cost more as people compete for a limited supply. Is it the mother experiencing homelessness's fault that she can't find affordable housing? Or is it the fact that there simply are not enough affordable housing units? I'll give you a hint...it's the fact that Wisconsin has a shortage of 120,000 affordable rental units and a lot more people who need them.
Although many mothers struggle with making ends meet and staying in housing, many experience homelessness for an entirely different reason: their shelter being swept right out from under them once they experience domestic violence. In fact, a Minnesota study showed that 1 in 3 women listed domestic violence as their reason for homelessness. The shocking truth is that households consisting of a single mother with children are 10x more likely to experience domestic violence than their married counterparts. Many mothers become desperate to keep their children safe so they leave their home. Many domestic abuse shelters do not accept women with children as they just don't have the room. This leaves women and their children vulnerable and makes it more likely that they will return to their abuser.
Thankfully, we at Family Promise of Monroe County can welcome these single mothers with open arms. The mothers who were evicted because their car repairs were too expensive and they had to pay it so they could go to work. The mothers who are experiencing homelessness because they can't get accepted into low income housing. The mothers who are chasing the light, running from abusers. The mothers who just need some help. We see you. We understand you. We are here for you.
We are here to offer you trauma informed case management, to help you find childcare, employment, and a home. We are here to lend an ear when you need someone to listen as well as providing a safe and comfortable shelter program. You are not alone. You are welcome here.