The Nature of Single Female-led Family Homelessness and Mental Health
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Chronic homelessness, repeated episodes and/or lengthy durations of homelessness constitute the extreme negative end of the “housing continuum.” The “housing continuum” reflects levels of financial and social attainment or loss in terms of housing. Among the 'hidden' homeless, the number and proportion of single parent female-led families, which constitute the majority of the ‘new homeless’, have quickly grown among the chronically homeless, as opposed to the usually visible ‘old homeless’ – single adult males. Single-parent female-led homeless families follow cyclical patterns due to small or weak social networks and mental health problems related to abusive histories and domestic violence. Female children of homeless families frequently re-experience cyclical or chronic homelessness as a single adult females or family member. The US and UK have recognized crucial demographic variables and correlations between abusive histories, domestic violence, mental health problems and single-parent female-led cyclical and chronic family homelessness. Canada has not. At expense to mental health and social programs, Canada has focused on partially reversing neo-liberal cutbacks to income, employment and housing programs. These are absolutely necessary, but alone only mitigate the related issues of family homelessness. Just as the literature illustrates my research will demonstrate the same is true in Canada using questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and observation. I argue supporting strong and sustainable social networks, comprehensive, collaborated and coordinated mental health and social programs such as “Homes First” are required to overcome the ravishes of family homelessness.