How Life Goals Differ between Men and Women in Supportive Housing
Men and women become and stay homeless for different reasons, but little research has examined how the gender identity of adults experiencing homelessness influences their goals. This study explored the life goals reported by homeless adults entering permanent supportive housing and how the goals differ by gender. The authors conducted baseline interviews for this longitudinal study to examine HIV risk behavior and social networks among men and women as they move from homelessness to permanent supportive housing. The study used data from 418 interviews of men and women who were 40 or older and were single or a couple without children. Participants were an average 54.5 years old, more than half reported substance dependence, and nearly two-thirds reported multiple coexisting chronic physical and mental health disorder diagnoses (known as comorbid diagnoses). The male-identified participants were more likely to be older and childless than those with a female gender identity.
- Twenty-two percent of women exiting homelessness reported education or health as a life goal.
- Ten percent of men exiting homelessness viewed education or health as a life goal.
- Women reported lower rates of achieving a high school education (69.2 percent versus 80.4 percent for men) and higher rates of having children (76.1 percent versus 56.7 percent for men).
- Women reported lower rates of substance dependence (42.7 percent versus 59.1 percent for men) but higher rates of comorbid physical and mental health disorder diagnoses (60.7 percent versus 46.5 percent for men).
- The authors suggest that policymakers and service providers should offer education and vocational training opportunities to women to help them achieve their goals and thrive in stable housing.