Thursday, September 06, 2007

Close your eyes. Picture a homeless person.
Do you see a pregnant 18-year-old?

Cynthia Moreno, 18, spends most of her days sitting on a dusty curb under a highway overpass. New statistics show the number of homeless women is rising in St. Pete.

Photo by the St. Petersburg Times

Young women -- homeless because of bad decisions and unreliable family members or friends -- are becoming more common, say city officials and homeless advocates in St. Petersburg.

"We are dealing with women who have become homeless because of lost jobs or medical problems," said Sarah Snyder, executive director of the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless. "We have some that have substance abuse problems. These are people who cannot find affordable housing."

The recent spike in the number of women living on the streets has social services agencies scrambling to add extra beds in women-only shelters and provide other services specific to women at a time when funding for nonprofits has been slashed nationwide.

Finding shelter for these women, especially those with children, can be more difficult than finding a place for men to sleep because safety is generally a greater concern.

"A lot of these women have been victims of some kind of domestic violence and then they end up on the street, where they are very vulnerable," said Bruce Wright, founder of the Refuge, a homeless outreach center that focuses on displaced youths. "No matter how you slice it, eventually some guy is going to try to sleep with them or do something to them."

Read the St. Petersburg Times article here.


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