Families only. No fathers.

I read in the paper that a shelter for homeless families had a policy of women and children only. No fathers.

Anyone see something odd here?

No, not really. Perhaps they are sheltering battered and/or abused and/or abandoned women and children. There may be a safety issue. Or a concern with limited privacy.

Doesn’t the article cite any reasons?

Seems like a problem to me in that it is blatant sex discrimination.

If they do serve those who have been battered, abused or abandoned, what about battered, abused and abandoned men who have small children?

It wasn’t not a shelter for battered women. It was a homeless shelter. For “families.”
Apparently families these days are father-optional.

Could you explain more about the article instead of us having to pry the basic facts out of you with questions?

Men are harder to control and making a place female only means half the number of bathrooms and also no sex will happen… at least not hetero sex.

It just makes it simpler to keep under control.

Another issue is that there are probably some (though inadequate) other shelters populated mostly by men, hence which women or children may be unconfortable going to.

Obviously the situation is not necessarily ideal, but I’m hardly surprised by it.

I think such a policy is very discriminatory. How hard would it be to have separate rooms? This just continues to underscore the misconception that men cannot be just as nurturing.

Andy, in what paper did you read this? Is there an online version we can all read? It certainly sounds discriminatory, but we need more info.

Most homeless families are headed by single mothers. There are relatively few two-parent homeless families.

Some homeless shelters only take women and children. Some only take families. Some only take single people. These are usually split up by sex. There are plenty of shelters available for men only…I used to volunteer at one during my lunch break.

It’s too difficult for small shelters to try to meet the needs of every type of person who might possibly need help, so they tend to specialize. Provided that there are also shelters available somewhere in the area that have space for families with fathers, I don’t see the problem here.

Also, if it’s a privately-funded place, they can pretty much set their own rules, I imagine.

Andy, we’re just missing too much information here to give anything but a WAG.

Where do the the little boy children go to the bathroom? Or do thay have to stay with dad in the Buick? Or, could it be that the OP never said it was same sex only, just no dads?

I find it interesting that thus far we have an op based on hearsay.

Any facts forthcoming?

“Most homeless families are headed by single mothers. There are relatively few two-parent homeless families.”

Cite, please?

Only shelters I’ve ever heard of that kept men out were women’s shelters and battered women’s shelters.

OK, I don’t have time to Google this out properly, but here’s a start. I vaguely remember reading about this situation a few years ago. According to this site about of homeless people are men. From what I read, most homeless shelters are geared toward people who are alone and have no provision for children. Thus one reason for shelters for women and children is to address a need which wasn’t being addressed.

Another reason for shelters which specifically exclude men is some women become homeless because they have left an abusive husband or boyfriend. From what I’ve read, the time an abused woman’s life is in greatest danger is when she has just left her SO. In such a situation, allowing fathers in would be downright dangerous. Such shelters have much stricter security precautions than most shelters.

Finally, here’s one other possiblity. There are some cultures in which men and women are not allowed to mingle. Because people from such cultures do live here in the US, I can see setting up a shelter in which women would be segregated for men.

The OP is a little vague, and I don’t have time for a full Google, but I figured I’d throw this much out.


Everyone just settle down.

This is not an uncommon policy. Women can’t be in men’s shelters, and men can’t be in women & children’s shelters. I believe the “women & children only” policy stems in part from the common dorm-style accommodations. In most shelters, the homeless sleep many to a room, and for various reasons shelter officials feel that it is unfair or unwise to ask women who are already vulnerable to sleep/live in the same room with strange men, even if those strange men are someone else’s husband or father.

Yes, it has some pretty unfortunate effects. Two-parent homeless families (rare as they are) have to split up for the night. Much more troubling is when a single mom has a kid in his teens. Some women & children shelters have an age limit, so a mom with a kid who is, say, 15, would have to see him sent off to a men’s shelter alone.

For this reason, some communities also have “family shelters.” These are a fairly specialized type of shelter. For many years in our community this was handled by churches in the Interfaith Hospitality Network. They’d put families up in Sunday school rooms and such, a different church each week being the host. A lot of moving around (not ideal) but it met a need that wasn’t filled by the community shelters, which (perhaps wisely, given needs and numbers) elected to serve the larger homeless community.

The naming of it (the shelter cited in the OP) is indeed sexist – it should not be called a “family shelter” if it takes in only women and children. But for reasons that others have explained well here I agree that such shelters are useful and necessary.


So we just tell fathers with children they’re out of luck?

So, Mockingbird, are you going for that creepy stalker vibe? There are many other people I would rather have following me around from thread to thread. But since you’re here, please read the following and shut up and stop following me.
I was sent a forwarded email about this. It took me a couple of days of exchanging email to get the source.

And it’s interesting to note in the same article:

Per Lamia’s note the number of homeless families with both a active, married mother and father as head(s) of household is infintesimal compared to single mother households in shelters. This is one of the rationales behind the push by governmental social welfare agencies to get people married, or at the very least get a father named at birth as the baby’s dad. One of the biggest prophylactics against critically dangerous child poverty, if not the biggest, is a dad onsite or paying CS.

At the social margins married households rate of homelessness is much, much lower relative to single mother headed households overall.