Women and children: the hidden side of Regina's homelessness

News Talk 650, CKOM, July 23,2015 - You don’t necessarily see them on the streets, but women and children do make up a significant number of Regina’s homeless population.

In the city’s first point-in-time homeless count and survey, volunteers found 63 children under the age of 18 who don’t have a home. Some were alone and staying at the designated youth shelter, but the majority of those children were with one of their parents.

Amy Stensrud is the senior director of housing at YWCA Regina which offers a combined capacity for 40 women and children between multiple shelters.

“The number of children reflected in the count is very much the story of what we see at the YWCA,” she said.

Stensrud says many of the women who come to YWCA shelters have children in tow.

“Homelessness is so much more complicated when you have children to worry about,” she said.

She admitted that many people think being homeless means you are sleeping on the streets, but women and children are part of the hidden side of homelessness.

“National and international statistics indicate that violence is the top reason that people become homeless when they are women or children,” she said.

Stensrud says it’s common for women to wind up with nowhere to go when they flee domestic violence. Other times they choose to stay in dangerous situations because they can’t take their kids to the streets.

Everyone has a different unique story, but Stensrud says she does see some patterns.

“Some women they may leave a violent situation or they may become homeless and they may be homeless for six months, a year or two years going from one shelter to another,” she said.

She says being homeless puts incredible amounts of stress on mothers who are trying to do the best they can raising their children, but it also takes a toll on the kids. Sometimes homelessness can lead to developmental delays, trauma, stress and health issues.

“There are statistics nationally that estimate that for someone who experiences homelessness as a child, they have a very high chance of being homeless as an adult. So being homeless as a child can impact your future fairly significantly,” Stensrud explained.

She says that when we look at tackling the overall issue of homelessness, we have to remember that what it means to be homeless is different for a youth than it is for a single man or woman and it’s also different for a mother with kids. She says solving homelessness requires a multifaceted approach that considers all unique circumstances.

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