Experiences of Homeless Women
Roofless Women's Action Research Mobilization
Researchers: Deborah Clarke, Delores Dell, Brenda Farrell,
Deborah Gray, Betsy Santiago, and Tesley Utley
edited and narrated by Marie Kennedy
In my soul, I'll always be formerly homeless. It changed me so much. Homelessness was probably one of the very roughest experiences of my life other than losing a child and it forced me to change because I couldn't be that person anymore and it forced me to grow and become strong to get out. That was the only positive thing that came out of it, that I'm the strong person that I am now, but that part of me will always be there, like a scar; there's a hole in my soul . . .
-- Brenda Farrell
THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENT OF THE HOMELESS population in the United States is women and their children. The Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare ( DPW) 1 estimated that 3,000 families would enter the state-funded shelter system in 1995. This year, about the same number of women and children will seek refuge at battered women's shelters across the state. In response, a vast network of emergency shelters and services has developed to address the needs of homeless people. In fact, there are 40 individual, 49 family, 15 specialized, and 12 scattered site programs funded by DPW. There are 17 battered women's programs supported by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services ( DSS). Yet the problems are not being solved. Since 1991 there has been a 36 percent increase of homeless women and children in the DPW system and a 57 percent increase of women and children in battered women's shelters. The very services that are supposed to help homeless people are often, perhaps unwittingly, part of the problem. As Kip Tiernan, founder of