Provide Reproductive Health Services to Homeless Women

Homelessness remains a serious challenge throughout the United States, an outcome of extreme poverty, the continued need for more affordable housing, and the lack of opportunity and services for those experiencing various disabilities. Estimates show that between 2.3 and 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness each year, including 1.35 million children.

Recent reports show that nearly 1.6 million people used emergency shelter or transitional housing programs between October 2007 and September 2008. Although women comprise only 36% of the adult sheltered homeless population, they represent 81% of the adults who become homeless with children.

Homeless women are often quite literally living at the margins of their communities; it is not surprising that reproductive, sexual, and maternal health concerns are prevalent among homeless women. As urban communities strive to address homelessness, they must recognize and incorporate reproductive, sexual, and maternal health issues.

Local Recommendation:

Homelessness is clearly an enormous challenge and concern for urban areas, where the largest portion of homeless people in the United States is located. Local advocacy groups, health care providers, and elected and public health officials must continue to work collectively to address this growing crisis and begin to prioritize the unique reproductive health issues facing homeless women and teens.
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© 2012 National Institute for Reproductive Health