Building Community: Supportive Housing for Young Mothers - Homeless Hub Research Summary Series

Motherhood during adolescence carries its own set of challenges for those who are homeless including physical and mental health problems, risk of abuse, and suicidal behaviour. Teen pregnancy also carries higher risks for the newborns such as birth complications, and physical, neurological, and nutritional problems. Very little attention has been directed toward understanding the particular needs of homeless mothers. They are marginalized by society, not well supported by the service sector and are generally left to fend for themselves. Teen motherhood is generally portrayed negatively, as a ‘problem’ that must be ‘dealt with’. Some researchers, however, have reframed the issue to address the populations’ strengths, struggles and challenges. Some findings suggest that early motherhood may not be directly responsible for negative outcomes such as poverty or low educational attainment. Instead, poor outcomes could result from a lack of resources and supports available to young mothers. One useful resource is supportive housing, which has been defined as a midpoint between institutional and independent living. Residents are offered long-term housing while being provided with the necessary services and supports.

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Gaetz, S., O’Grady, B., Buccieri, K., Karabanow, J., & Marsolais, A. (Eds.), Youth Homelessness in Canada: Implications for Policy and Practice. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.

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