Two reports recently released by the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICHP), Intergenerational Disparities Experienced by Homeless Black Families and Profiles of Risk No. 6: Maternal Health and Well-being, found that black Americans and women are significantly overrepresented in U.S. homelessness and poverty statistics.
The first report, Intergenerational Disparities Experienced by Homeless Black Families, documents that in 2010, nearly one-quarter (23.3%) of black families lived in poverty, three times the rate of white families (7.1%). Black families also experience homelessness at a much higher rate, with one out of every 141 persons in black families staying in homeless shelters in 2010 – a rate seven times higher than in white families (ICHP, 2012). Systemic and interrelated barriers to economic independence have resulted in black families having unequal access to decent housing, employment, and education.
Discrimination in all three sectors is still a reality for black individuals and families, resulting in longstanding poverty, higher unemployment, lower educational attainment and earned income, considerable gaps in wealth accumulation, and homelessness. These inequities leave black families more likely to have smaller financial reserves to fall back on in emergency situations, thereby making them more vulnerable to poverty and homelessness. To read the full report, please click here.
The second research brief, Profiles of Risk No. 6: Maternal Health and Well-being, focuses on how poverty affects women and children’s physical and mental health, and how these families differ from comparable families who are able to maintain stable housing (ICHP, 2012). Findings show that poor women and their children experience physical and mental health problems at higher rates than their non-poor peers and experience higher rates of depression, more illegal drug use, and higher rates of domestic violence than their stably housed counterparts. The study also highlights the importance of relationship status for impoverished and homeless women, with single women reporting better physical and mental health outcomes than their married or cohabitating counterparts.
Physical and mental health challenges have significant negative impacts on poor women’s abilities to maintain employment and achieve relative economic stability, creating a cycle of poverty and homelessness that is difficult to break. Physical disability, depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – to name just a few – force women to work less frequently, and also place them at a greater risk of losing their jobs as a result of these health issues. To read the full research brief, please click here.
The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) is an independent nonprofit research and development organization based in New York City. The ICPH focuses its research on homeless families, as well as those living in extreme poverty, examining the demographics of this growing population, the challenges these families face in becoming self-sufficient, and the programs that are most effective in helping them transition out of poverty. To learn more, visit the ICHP website at http://www.icphusa.org/.