women and single mothers more vulnerable

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This Wednesday, February 1, the Abbé Pierre Foundation published its 28th report on poor housing. In addition to the overwhelming figures presented, the report focuses, for the first time, on “gender”, and the difficulties that particularly affect women and single mothers.

Housing, this conspicuously absent from the priorities of the executive “. This is what the Abbé Pierre Foundation notes in its new report, published this Wednesday, on the state of poor housing in France. The figures are clear: 4.1 million people will be poorly housed in 2022, including 330,000 without a fixed address. An upward trend according to the report, in particular due to the ” drop in public effort “.

This year, the foundation devotes for the first time an entire chapter of its report to the obstacles and discrimination experienced by women, LGBTQ+ people and especially single mothers in the face of poor housing. ” By analyzing the different residential pathways, we found that gender is a factor that triggers or aggravates poor housing remarks Pauline Portefaix, in charge of studies at the Abbé Pierre Foundation.

Women and single mothers, even more vulnerable

Simply put, according to the report, single women are less well housed. Because if 20% of all French households are vulnerable in relation to housing, this rate rises to 40% for a single woman with one child, and reaches 59% for those with three or more children.

Against the backdrop of the strong presence of gender-based violence, several factors explain these inequalities, according to the report: lower incomes for single women and the predominance of less well-paid precarious jobs. Added to this are inequalities of access to property and heritage (” it is twice as common for a man to own property on his own than a woman “), but also domestic violence, which is a factor “ particularly acute » poor housing for women. As proof, 40% of female victims of domestic violence who ask for accommodation do not obtain it.

In detail, marital separation leads to a ” financial and residential shock much stronger for women than for men, since their disposable income plummets by around 20% (against 2.5% on average for men) after separation. Immediate precariousness in terms of housing, mostly for single mothers.

Indeed, while 83% of single-parent families are made up of single women, a third of them live below the poverty line, and very often have to accept social housing that is unsuited to family composition. ” Often, single mothers do not earn enough income to afford a large enough home. So a lot of mothers don’t have a room of their own and occupy the living roomwith all that entails in terms of intimacy and family dysfunction “, explains Pauline Portefaix.

Women on the street, a precariousness inconspicuous »

When they are on the street, analyzes show that homeless mothers benefit from a ” status of mother who protects them since the children are first protected “recalls Pauline Portefaix. Except that, as the report points out, in the last decade, the increase in the number of women with children on the street has come to confirm the hypothesis that this status protects them less than before.

A phenomenon due to the saturation of the emergency accommodation system, according to Pauline Portefaix. ” We will prioritize and sort women with children according to their vulnerability. Even families and mothers with 4-year-old children are no longer considered vulnerable enough to be accommodated, as there is no longer enough space. »

Both men and women on the street are extremely vulnerable. However, even if women are fewer than men among the homeless », their count would be underestimated, due to a lack of visibility. Since they find themselves overexposed to gender-based and sexual violence In the streets and the slums, women go in search of security and develop strategies to conceal themselves.

This need to hide can precisely “cause them to desert day care centers or certain municipal showers when they are frequented mostly by men », Analyzes Pauline Portefaix. This is why, according to the researcher, there are not enough single-sex places to accommodate homeless women. ” In addition to this, it is necessary to train professionals in mixed places to identify and support people who have suffered violence. “, she recommends.

Faced with poor housing, the government shortcomings »

More broadly, the foundation denounces public policies that aggravate these situations of poor housing, or only “ move and maintain difficulties » encountered by the homeless. For example, the Abbé Pierre Foundation points the finger at the ” budget cuts made in APL (personalized housing assistance) and in the resources of social landlords “. Thus, the amount of housing aid has never been as low as in 2021, at 1.5% of GDP, while it stood at 2.2% in 2010. That is the equivalent of a decrease of 15 billion euros per year.

On the issue of poorly housed women, the foundation recommends upgrading precarious jobs, as well as alimony allocated to separated mothers. ” For us, there is a clear lack of political will to resolve this situation. The executive is betting on more emergency accommodation places, while the solution is to provide sustainable housing for homeless people adds Pauline Portefaix.

Another alert shocking ” of the report: the number of children still on the street, despite the promise of Olivier Klein, Minister Delegate for the City and Housing ” that there are no more children on the street this winter “. On the evening of December 19, 2022, there were still more than 4000 people in families refused by the 115 for lack of space, including 1172 children and 335 under three years old.

It is also because some people are considered to have lower priority than others, that those without a regular administrative situation do not have to be accommodated. And this criminalization has an impact on children. We talk a lot about them as being “without paper”. This means that we look at the administrative situation of the children to find out whether it is legitimate or us to accommodate them, rather than the simple fact that they are children. », indignant Pauline Portefaix.

Homelessness issues therefore transcend housing policy alone. And according to the foundation’s researcher, it can only be effective if it is accompanied by ambitious health, economic, justice and immigration policies to reduce the overwhelming figures of poor housing.

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