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More on Rights and Freedoms

Women comprise ten percent of the people on skid row


Some people wrote to me in response to my commentary More on Rights.

One of them wrote:

Walter,

I was interested in your article on Rights. I noted the following passage:

"On the other hand, women are less likely to be desperate for work because welfare is always available to them, no matter for how long they wish to receive it. If that is unsatisfactory, women can always find themselves a man (or some organization) to look after them. That is easy. Men marry down, and women marry up. That is why only about 10 percent of people on skid row are women."

Do you have a few more details (statistics, or facts) on this aspect, especially the 10% on skid row? In other words, what is the gender split in terms of poverty. (Preferably for Canada, or multiple western nations.)

Regards,

Lloyd

Lloyd,

The ten-percent figure is based on my personal observations over the years in Edmonton, but there are some better statistics.

The first of whom I know who examined those statistics (for London, England) was George Orwell in "Down and Out in Paris and London", a book in which he described his experiences as a dishwasher in Paris and eventually as a panhandler in London. His treatment of the subject of those statistics is available at

George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)

When it doesn't get any worse -- The life of a tramp, a quote from George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" (1933) and comments pertaining to that

Some of the thoughts I expressed in the commentary to which you replied are also expressed in George Orwell's observations and those of other people, such as Warren Farrell, except that the latter barely covered men on the down and out.

There are other statistics. Just a cursory search on the Net (for "proportion of women" +"skid row") provides more than 30 search returns. Here is some of the information accessible through the entries in the list that is returned for that search:

Another Way to Help the Homeless

Deluca, Peter and J.J. Hysell. "Homelessness on the increase for women", Key West Citizen, August 4, 2002.

The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that at least 10 percent of all known homeless persons in the United States are women, and further that about 70 percent of these homeless women lost their homes because of domestic violence. The proportion of women to men on the streets has changed significantly during the last 10 years, and it is now believed that the female homeless population is increasing faster than that of men.

Given the source, you've got to take those figures with a grain of salt. For instance, itinerant women housed in Alberta's battered women's shelters comprise 25 percent of residents (according to shelter managers). As a Member of the Alberta Legislature told me, these are drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, etc. whose welfare money runs out shortly after payments are received (usually within two or three days after they receive their allowances). They are regular and recurrent guests at battered women's shelters. Yet, they are counted into the statistics for battered women, although they are not battered by any flight of the imagination.

Changing Needs of Substance Abusing Women on Los Angeles Skid Row.

My note: The file appears to be protected. For that reason I can't copy and paste from it. You may wish to have a look at it. It shows that the sample examined consists of 2,475 men and 690 women. The report does not identify what proportions of the total number of the homeless in Los Angeles those numbers represent, nor is it identified whether that sample was picked at random.

One would have to write to the authors to obtain clarification on that.

Homelessness and Poverty -- The Wounds That Just Won't Heal
By Elizabeth N. Nissim, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Der Zeitgeist: The Student Journal of Psychology
Summer 1997 Issue

Homeless Women

In the 1950's and 1960's, there was almost a complete absence of women among the homeless population. However, over the years, the proportion of women in the homeless population has increased from 0% to 20%-25%.

My note: Amazing, isn't it, the "progress" feminism did bring for women, right?

I don't know what the source for those figures is. You would have to read the report carefully to determine what, if any, source for that is provided.

However, I would not regard that report as an objective source of information. Consider:

Homeless women usually face a cycle of violence. That is, most women have been abused both as children and then again as adults by husbands, boyfriends, and even casual acquaintances (Wagner, 1993). In fact, domestic violence may be the precursor to homelessness. For women, such violence often leads them to flee from an abusive relationship (Bellavia, Daeschler, Owens, Passero, Thomas, Toro, & Wall, 1995). For most women, getting involved with boyfriends or husbands, and often having a baby, seemed motivated primarily by the need to leave the home during adolescence or young adulthood. After leaving home, the women usually exist marginally, sharing a house with their husbands or partners. In addition, the presence of young children dramatically increases the long-term emotional, social, and financial tolls of being battered (Wagner, 1993).

It makes me wonder how many men are homeless because of domestic violence. For instance, there were two men in Calgary in one night a few years ago whom the police picked up in -30 weather and let sleep in the police station, one in the back seat of a cruiser in the heated garage, and the other on a piece of foam rubber on the floor of the kitchen in the police station.

Both men were without a place to go to on account of domestic problems. Both were also absolutely broke and without any means of support, although both had well-paying jobs.

We let a few men like that stay at our place over the years. One of them got thrown out of his home on account of false charges by his ex, even though she was the one who threw cutlery at her kids and caused one of her boys to be hospitalized on account of having a fork stuck in his knee. That man we found sleeping in his car on a cold winter night on a country road between our farm and Bruderheim.

Given that feminists or women with feminist leanings are the gate-keepers of information relating to social statistics, whether those come from government sources or not, it is highly unlikely that it is easy to find objective statistics on the relative proportion of men and women on skid row. After all, those statistics would clearly identify men as the primary victims of discrimination in that sector, and that would never do, right?

Regards,

Walter

[An afterthought (not part of the original commentary shown above) on the statistics on homeless women and those on skid row.
   People on skid row are a sub-population of homeless people.  Someone who crashes on a friend's or relative's couch is not sleeping in a cardboard box under a bridge or in a back alley.  He is momentarily homeless but not on skid row.  Homeless women and women on skid row are not one and the same thing.  Although the small number of the latter is included in the much larger number of the former, both populations of women in poverty account for only a small fraction of their respective male counterparts. The ratio is one woman for every nine men.
   No doubt, there will be some who wish to refute that, given that they feel that only women can be victims or deserving of pity.  So, if you object and feel that you have access to better and more precise information that puts the plight of women into the proper light, let me have it (that is, the information – keep invectives, vilification and the manufacturing of concern, I don't need those; I need information, good information, not garbage or rhetoric). --WHS
]

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Posted 2002 01 05
Updates:
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