Just under one-third of the 60,000 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County are women — a 15 percent increase over 2019, according to the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The Homeless Count, however, does not reveal how many of these women are single, rendering them invisible. To address this, the Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, directing the County to recognize single women experiencing homelessness as a unique subpopulation requiring targeted resources.
“Single women are especially vulnerable when homeless because they have fewer resources available to them since most services for women are geared toward those living with children in a family unit,” said Supervisor Solis. “As a result of systemic inequities, women of color are disproportionately experiencing homelessness. Rent increases, evictions, and the COVID-19 economic downturn have pushed many into homelessness. Today’s motion gives voice to unsheltered single women who deserve the type of support that will set them on course to self-reliance and hope.”
Drawing from the 2019 Los Angeles Women’s Needs Assessment survey of more than 300 single women experiencing homelessness, nearly half are age 51 or older. The report finds that 60.2 percent experienced violence in the last year, with more than 25 percent experiencing it “often” or “always.” A staggering 82 percent of those surveyed indicated they have struggled to access permanent housing.
“I am extremely proud to bring attention to these highly vulnerable women experiencing homelessness,” said Supervisor Barger. “They are at higher risk to be victims of crime and sexual assault, and often lack the ability to seek out safe housing or supportive services. I am hopeful that through enhanced advocacy and focused resources we can improve outcomes for women in need.”
With LGBTQ women experiencing homelessness at disproportionately high rates, and transgender women facing greater challenges in accessing shelters and homeless services, more data needs to be collected and analyzed to effectively identify strategies to help this population.
“As the only organization dedicated to serving unaccompanied women in Los Angeles, the need we’re facing today is unprecedented and still growing,” said Amy Turk, chief executive officer for the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC). “Supervisor Solis and this designation are providing a literal lifeline to these women. And for service providers like DWC, we now have a path forward for addressing women’s homelessness on a much larger scale.”
Today’s motion instructs Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to collect data on unaccompanied women — or women who are single living without children — as part of the annual homeless count. It also directs the County’s Chief Executive Officer’s Homeless Initiative to prepare a report back with a plan within 60 days on how to conduct a Countywide Women’s Needs Assessment, given that the Downtown Women’s Center needs assessment survey is only conducted in the City of Los Angeles.
In addition, the motion also instructs the CEO to gauge whether it is necessary to set aside Measure H funding to address the needs of unaccompanied women. The motion also instructs the County’s Sacramento advocates to support state legislation that would require a minimum of state-allocated homeless resources to be spent on this subpopulation. Lastly, today’s motion directs the County’s Washington, D.C. advocates to support the prioritization of unaccompanied women and to view them as a homeless subpopulation in the HUD-mandated point-in-time count.
Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org