A History of Women’s Homelessness: The Making of a Crisis

Abe Oudshoorn, Amy Van Berkum, Colleen Van Loon


Women’s homelessness is continually referred to as a new, surprising, or growing phenomenon. Rather, in this paper we explore the proposition that women’s homelessness has long existed in Canada, Australia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, but in many ways has been ignored or marginalized. To do so, we use texts, articles, and reports from the mid-1800’s to today to present how women experiencing homelessness are pushed to the margins of an already marginalized group. Instead of a new phenomenon, we seek to demonstrate that women’s homelessness has evolved over time parallel with evolving gender roles. Ultimately, we conclude that it is in fact structural forces of gender that have put women at unique risk of experiencing hidden homelessness.

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