Does homelessness affect women more than men?

Things that appear interesting can sometimes just confuse….

Homeless Link carried out research recently among 3000 people sleeping rough and found that women were more likely to use cocaine and heroin than men.  (The Guardian reported the story in its inimitable style saying women were more likely to use heroine.  Which I suppose is true?  Later editions corrected this.)

Their research showed that a third of homeless women reported having used heroin in the last month, compared with 28% of men, while 31% of women had taken cocaine or crack cocaine compared with 29% of men. They also found that more women use heroin-substitute methadone than men and there is greater use of other prescription drugs in females.

The media coverage on the report is here

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/05/more-homeless-women-use-heroine-and-cocaine-than-men-study-finds

And the full report is available on the Homeless Link website herehttp://www.homeless.org.uk/connect/news/2015/aug/05/homeless-health-data…

Although the differences are not huge, this is still a surprise and challenges the traditional stereotype of homeless people.  It is undoubtedly true that services need to be designed and commissioned to help women who are rough sleeping.

But, but but,…

It is also true that more men are homeless than women, and their needs cannot be ignored.   And in fact some have used the Homeless Link report to argue the very opposite of what it appears to be saying at first read  – that in fact men have far greater health needs. For example Glen Poole on the Telegraph website herehttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11787304/Homelessness-is-a-gendered-issue-and-it-mostly-impacts-men.html

I have to leave the debate about data to others far cleverer than I.  But we can be clear about one thing: homeless people need help.  At the LHF we want to use our funding to help people who are homeless regardless of gender, background, health needs or circumstance.  And we want to fund projects that stop people becoming homeless in the first place and research that helps us understand the situation better.

If you have an idea, contact us to see if we can help.

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