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Marital and Family Issues and Its Connection To Homelessness

As many know, the topic of homelessness is very complex; the situation is a vicious cycle that doesn’t just happen to one person. Marital status can be a big contributor to why an individual is experiencing homelessness.

Although marital status as a contributing factor to homelessness isn’t commonly talked about, around 11% of the homeless are in their situation due to family issues. When someone gets married, they do not go into the situation thinking that they will end up divorced. After being wed to their partner, many individuals decide to combine all of their finances. This can leave individuals after divorce with no money. They are forced to end up on the streets with no money.

“A report from the Parliament of Canada also lists marital breakdown as a key ‘risk factor’ for homelessness, citing Finnie’s analysis that after divorce, 40% of women are in worse economic circumstances and are three times as likely to live in poverty”. 

On top of traumatic divorce and marital issues, having to struggle financially and knowing the odds of ending up homeless are higher creates a strain. It can be challenging after an individual is settled down and not expecting to go through such a thing. The odds of an individual potentially facing homelessness after divorce can mainly be caused when only one partner earns an income. When there is only one form of income, the individual who earns the money is left at a greater economic and social advantage following divorce. 

“A 2004 UK study reported that the rise of divorce contributed to more homelessness in people over the age of 50. A news report on the study stated that over 27,000 householders became homeless directly because of relationship breakdown”.

Divorce often leads to many legal issues, which puts a strain on an individual financially, as well as emotionally. Some of these marital issues are due to domestic violence. If the situation involves domestic abuse, the victim wants to get out as soon as possible and quickly. This leaves them vulnerable, with barely anything and in a panic. That also increases the odds of experiencing homelessness. 

There are resources  available to help those  experiencing homeless due to relationship issues, but when shelters are full and housing is expensive, it is hard to guarantee safety and housing. 

Glen-Marie Frost, 73, speaks out on her own personal situation when going through divorce and facing homelessness. “By the time she was 64, Frost was divorced and had little money saved… She turned to sleeping on friends’ couches but after a while resorted to sleeping in her car instead”.

Regardless of the reasoning as to why an individual is facing homelessness, it is very difficult to find shelter or temporary housing. When not having money saved up, it can be difficult for an individual to have something to fall back on if facing a situation like a divorce. 

The issues of divorce and marital problems resulting in homelessness are not discussed as much as they should be. More attention should be drawn to this topic to help individuals in a situation like such with their partner.  

Sources:

https://www.homelesshub.ca/blog/what-are-statistics-homelessness-due-divorce

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/dvhomelessness032106.pdf

https://nypost.com/2022/07/18/former-exec-became-homeless-after-divorce-says-it-could-happen-to-you/

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