Homeless Advocates Push for Single Women

July 6, 2012 5:00 am by: Logan Molyneux

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless shelters only men during the nights, leaving women, especially single women, looking for another place to stay. Photo by KUT News
The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless shelters only men during the nights, leaving women, especially single women, looking for another place to stay. Photo by KUT News

By Carlos Morales

Advocates for Austin’s homeless population are pushing to fill a gap in the city’s resources, one that leaves out single homeless women.

There are nearly 200 women’s shelters in the state of Texas, nine of which are right here in Austin. But some say that isn’t enough, because single women may not have access to existing shelters. A petition for a new single women’s shelter began earlier this month.

During the day, the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, or ARCH, caters to the needs of homeless men and women. But at night ARCH becomes a men-only facility. Homeless women have to find their own place for the night. The closest option is the Salvation Army. But it’s often overcrowded.

Richard Troxell, president of the non-profit House the Homeless, says people need better options, but a lack of funding and political will has prevented them.

“We have a number of women’s shelter in Austin,” Troxell said. “We have a battered women’s shelter, but you have to be battered. We have a women and children shelter, but you have to have children. We have a women’s shelter, but the capacity is wholly inadequate, and that’s our problem.”

Troxell estimates that there are roughly 4,000 homeless men and women living in the Austin metropolitan area. The fastest growing demographics of this group — at both a local and national level — are single women and women with children.

One woman at the ARCH, who didn’t give her name, said a new shelter would provide more than just a place to sleep for the night.

“There’s just a need for it for many reasons, you know,” she said. “Not just the danger of the streets but to help, to get off the street, to make the whole population diminish, you know.”

Irit Umani, with the homeless resource Trinity Center, believes that a new women’s shelter would be the best short-term solution for homelessness and the most cost-effective option.

“Many of them end up in jail and in emergency rooms, which are the two most expensive forms of housing, so to speak,” Umani said.

Area homeless centers are collecting signatures to petition for a new single women’s shelter. Umani says that’s a short-term fix. She thinks permanent supportive housing is a better solution. It provides long-term housing and services for the homeless. The city hopes to have 350 of those units by 2014.

 

View and hear the original story: http://kut.org/2012/07/homeless-advocates-push-for-single-womens-shelter/