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Snapshot explores homelessness among Utah women

a homeless woman with a dog sitting on the sidewalk receiving a handout
dosomething.org
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The snapshot noted that the number of women fleeing domestic violence doubled from 2017 to 2021.

The Utah Women & Leadership Project released a new research snapshot that explores homelessness among Utah women.

Parallel to the national trend, there are more men experiencing homelessness in Utah than women. Dr. Emily Darowski, associate director of the Utah Woman & Leadership Project, said there are aspects of women experiencing homelessness that need to be recognized.

“Women are often bringing in children,” Darowski said. “We're also getting a snapshot of those who are under 18, who are also experiencing homelessness, and those individuals are particularly vulnerable.”

Mental health is one of the biggest factors contributing to women struggling with homelessness, along with chronic health conditions, physical disabilities, substance use, developmental disabilities and fleeing domestic violence. The snapshot also noted that the number of women fleeing domestic violence doubled from 2017 to 2021.

“Your choices might be, stay or not have shelter,” Darowski said. “We want them to be accessing the services that are available so that they don't have to stay in those situations that are unhealthy.”

Though the majority of women who are homeless in Utah are white, other races are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

“Those who identify as Hispanic are particularly vulnerable,” she said.

The legislature invested historic amounts of funding – about $121 million dollars of state and federal money – towards addressing homelessness this year. This was largely due to a contribution from the American Rescue Plan. While this is a hopeful development, this kind of funding isn’t guaranteed in the future. However, there are other ways to help reduce homelessness in your local community, such as seeking out volunteer opportunities on websites like endhomelessness.org.

“This is just a perfect time of year for us to remember how much we all have, and look into how we can give more of ourselves to our community,” Darowski said.

A long time lover of NPR and radio reporting, Clayre Scott joined UPR in August of 2021 as the producer of the weekly podcast UnDisciplined. She began reporting in 2022 and now enjoys telling stories through sound and getting weekly texts from her family after hearing her on the radio. Along with her work at UPR, Clayre is attending Utah State University to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism, with time on the side to study Political Science and Art History.