According to a study of Canadian homeless shelters 26.7% of all shelter users were female. The difference between female and male populations increases with age, so while females make up 50.1% of the under 16 population and 36.9% of those 16-24, they only represent 24.2% of the 25-54 population and 20.7% of those 55 and over. These numbers do not include Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters which are obviously predominantly female. Out of the 30,000 people who are homeless on any single night in Canada, just under ¼ (7,350) were staying VAW shelters.
The common perception that homelessness is an issue that only affects men ignores the growing percentage of women that are at risk of or are experiencing homelessness. Women's homelessness is often hidden. A woman may be temporarily staying with friends or family or living in a household where she is subject to family violence. Women at risk of eviction or living in illegal, overcrowded or unsafe buildings are also part of the hidden homeless. Often a woman has very few choices when looking to access safe, appropriate and affordable housing. Various economic, political and social issues further hamper a single woman's hope of finding housing.
“While 9% of people living in Canada are poor...some groups are much more likely to be poor than others:
- Aborginal women (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) – 36%
- Visible minority women – 35%
- Women with disabilities – 26%
- Singe parent mothers – 21% (compared to 7% of single parent fathers)
- Single senior women – 14%.”
Single mothers: 51.6% of lone parent families headed by women are poor.