I met Stacy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while doing outreach with Dr Jim Withers .
Stacy says she would rather sleep on the streets than have to give sexual favors to sleep inside someone’s apartment.
When I asked Stacy if there is help she said something very true, “there is help but there isn’t help”! The current homeless services system is broken and we make it nearly impossible for people to get help. Just one example: most shelters now require that you have an income, and for people who cannot work yet can only get government assistance (around $200 a month plus $100 or so in food stamps depending on State) there is NO SUPPORT to get them out of homelessness. Basically, they are left to die on the streets and that is unacceptable!
Stacy is lucky. She qualified for SSI which “almost” pays enough for rent but little else. If there was low-income housing stock she could get subsidized housing. But most Section 8 programs have a waiting list. Stacy’s option is to pay some cash and her body to a man to have a place to stay. This situation is very common for women experiencing homelessness.
Special thanks to Dr. Jim Withers