Best Life: Women are more likely to face homelessness in America
ORLANDO, FLA. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The numbers of women experiencing homelessness are on the rise and a new study out of the University of New York reports it’s happening at a far greater rate than is recognized. There are more than 580,000 people who are homeless in the United States. Of those, 223,000 are women. Many of those are single mothers. And as prices for things like rent and food continue to increase, experts believe more and more families will be waking up with no place to call home.
“I didn’t have a place to stay. But to see your four children at that time, my youngest was nine months old, to have him sit in the car seat for majority of his day,” said Maria Murga, a single mom who spent eight months homeless.
“I had just gone through a divorce. I had just lost my job of 17 years,” said Sio Sotelo, a single mom who experienced homelessness.
Faced with nowhere to go and nobody to help them, both Sotelo and Murga made a call to Bridge Communities.
“Ninety percent of the families we serve are head house of the head of the household are single moms. The truth is the number one reason for homelessness is the lack of affordable housing,” said CEO of Bridge Communities Karen Wells.
A new study by the Homeless Project found women are more likely to experience hidden homelessness, living with family members, and friends, in hotels and in cars. Bridge Communities provides these families a home for two years, connecting them with local volunteers for financial counseling, debt relief services, childcare, nutrition, mental health counseling, job training and education.
“What we found somewhere between 18 months and two years was a good timeframe for mom to get stabilized, save money, eliminate debt, and get prepared to launch back. And our goal is to never return to homelessness,” said Wells.
In fact, 82% of Bridge Community families never return to homelessness. Eighty-four percent are in steady and advancing careers. With the help of the bridge, Sotelo was able to pay off $20,000 in debt.
“It was hope when I, when I most needed it,” said Sotelo.
She is now a registered nurse and both her and Maria own their own homes.
“I’m proud to say I am the first, college graduate for my family,” said Murga.
Bridge Communities has helped almost a thousand families in Chicago in the past 34 years. It costs about $2,700 to support a family a month and they work with a $5 million annual budget, with almost all of it coming from donors.
If you would like to find out more, you can check them out at bridgecommunities.org.
Contributors to this news report includes: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.
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