Sep 7, 2023 - News

National Women's Shelter Network holds first conference in Miami

Lotus House founder Constance Collins. Photo: Courtesy of NWSN

Homeless shelters for women and children are being deluged with people in need, according to the National Women's Shelter Network (NWSN). The network formed during the pandemic to help staff from about 175 shelters nationwide share resources.

Why it matters: The number of people in the U.S. experiencing homelessness is up 11% this year from 2022, the NWSN said in a statement.

  • NWSN held its first-ever conference this week in Miami, a city where it's becoming increasingly difficult for people to secure housing and escape homelessness.

Zoom in: Lotus House in Overtown is the largest women's homeless shelter in the nation, housing about 250-260 adults and 265 children each night.

  • Women typically stay for a little over six months, but that figure has been creeping up because of a lack of affordable housing, inflation and other factors.

What they're saying: "There's so many people calling. We don't even keep a waiting list," Lotus House founder Constance Collins tells Axios.

  • "We're having to make decisions about who is the most vulnerable. Is it an elder, 70, 80 years old, on the street? Is it a woman who's about to give birth? Is it a mother who's over at the hospital with an infant that cannot leave the hospital without having a home for her baby?"

What we're watching: The NWSN outlined a seven-step roadmap for ending homelessness in America during its conference.

  • The ambitious plan calls for funding more women's homeless shelters, permanent housing for extremely low-income people, health care in shelters, child care resources, trauma-informed care and more.
  • Collins says her group outlined the seven steps to end homelessness "so that people stop saying it can't be done and start talking about how to do it."
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