Women as Single Parents: Confronting Institutional Barriers in the Courts, the Workplace, and the Housing Market

Women as Single Parents: Confronting Institutional Barriers in the Courts, the Workplace, and the Housing Market

Women as Single Parents: Confronting Institutional Barriers in the Courts, the Workplace, and the Housing Market

Women as Single Parents: Confronting Institutional Barriers in the Courts, the Workplace, and the Housing Market

Synopsis

"As Michael Harrington's New American Poverty alerted readers to that problem, so the present collection makes readers aware of the various conditions of single parenting. . . . The institutional barriers of courts, housing, and workplace to the economic well-being of the female single parent are explicitly and directly examined. Solid recommendations for institutionalizing change on the state and federal levels are made. The interdisciplinary expertise of the authors covers the fields of law, social work, urban planning, housing, economics, and public policy, all with solid academic preparation. Charts are clear and concise, and the laguage is direct and concrete." Choice

Excerpt

Current trends suggest that the single-parent family is not a transitory phase between marriages but is a family form here to stay. The lowered socioeconomic status of women who are single parents is raising serious equity questions concerning the distribution of goods and services to women and children in America. This new dilemma is challenging fundamental assumptions and values concerning the role of the state in determining, and then in meeting, levels of basic human need for the most vulnerable among us.

Most books written about families and children assume a nuclear family structure. Single-parent families are rarely discussed in depth, reflecting the research findings and conventional wisdom of the mid-1970s that the female-headed family was a transitional, deviant state. Books about poverty most often concentrate only on the public welfare system and view women as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) recipients. This book approaches the subject of women as single parents in the context of their social environment. The authors investigate how single mothers try to access several sources of income such as child support, wages, in- kind housing benefits, and public welfare benefits, and they analyze the meaning of their experiences for shelter options and social policy.

This book evolved out of my own research over the past three years on single mothers and their housing needs. Some of the findings demonstrated that single mothers were vulnerable on many fronts, not just in terms of their housing. Their serious efforts to shelter their children were thwarted by low income, by personal constraints, and by institutional barriers that extended far beyond supply and demand factors in the private housing market.

Affordable shelter is a first line of defense against the forces pushing people toward poverty. But affordable shelter for families at the margins has become increasingly scarce. The growing num-

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