As the temperatures drop in Rochester, the homeless population is at an even greater risk. The community has seen a spike in homeless women in recent years.
“We’re doing some outreach pretty aggressively right now to find women in cars and in parks and in abandoned locations,” said Nicholas Coulter, co-founder of Person-Centered Housing Options.
The Homeless Services Network meets once a month. One of the biggest problems they’re currently seeing is more women forced onto the streets.
“Daycare costs are rising, healthcare costs are rising, so women are forced to come into the shelter to get some of those basic needs met,” said Carrie Michel-Wynne of the YWCA.
According to an annual report, Rochester emergency housing and local shelters have treated more women than men this year.
“We’re doing regular clean ups of locations. We’re getting people out on the streets, both volunteers and outreach workers,” said Coulter. “We’re going to places where people get dinners. We’re just trying to cover all of our ground so that Monroe County is safer for people that are on the streets.”
“When they go out and they’re finding the women, then they can leverage other resources such as the YWCA to get women into housing,” Michel-Wynne said.
The YWCA estimates that the Person-Centered Housing Options outreach team alone refers roughly 5 women every month. Nationwide, it’s estimated at least 33 percent of the unsheltered homeless population is women. They often have unique needs.
“Often times, women experience other hardships such as trauma, domestic violence,” said Michel-Wynne. “The housing burden is greater because they’re caring for children.”
Local organizations served almost 1,700 women in 2016, about half of whom have kids. As that number continues to grow, they know they have to continue outreach efforts.
Homeless women also have great needs for some items when they go to shelters, especially feminine hygiene products.