Gender gap for Austin’s Homeless

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Gender gap for Austin’s Homeless

Posted on September 27, 2010 at 10:38 PM
Updated yesterday at 10:38 PM

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Monday night Austin’s Human Rights Commission voted unanimously to urge the Austin City Council to add more beds for single homeless women.

Of the estimated 3,000 homeless people in the Austin area it’s believed that 400 of them are women.

According to Lisa Scheps with Austin’s Human Rights Commission there  are only 43 beds at area homeless shelters set aside for single women.

“We’re working on a model of serving that goes back to the forties and at that time the world was very different. Single women seemed to be taken care of by families so there wasn’t as big of a problem as there was then,” said Scheps.

The impetus for the discussion and study on the state of homeless women in Austin was the death of Jennifer Gale, a colorful transgendered person who was also homeless.

Gale, an ex-Marine died in December of 2008 while sleeping outdoors in the cold.

“When Jennifer Gale died, who as you know was a transgender woman who was very visible in our city, that died because services that may have been available to her, she didn’t feel welcome in. I started to look into the homeless situation in general for transgender people and what I discovered is that there are no beds for single women and that angered me and angered other people,” added Scheps.

Austin’s Human Rights Commission passed a joint resolution with the Women’s Commission regarding beds for single homeless women.

Talk of adding more beds at area shelters is in its earliest stages according to Scheps. It still isn’t known how much money the additional beds will cost nor is it known at this point where they will go.

“It’s a public health issue and an issue of poverty. It is one that’s important to all residents of Austin,” said Elizabeth Brenner, an Austin Human Rights Commission member.

The Human Rights Commission plans to turn over the joint resolution to the Austin City Council immediately.

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