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Service usage of a cohort of formerly homeless women in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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SSM-Population Health, 15, 100842

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This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the service usage of homeless women in a small city in Aotearoa New Zealand, revealing significant gender differences within the homeless population, particularly focusing on a cohort that has been re-housed by Housing First services.

Utilising de-identified and integrated administrative datasets, the study finds that homeless women are more likely to be younger, Māori, parents, and have higher rates of government service usage prior to being housed compared to their male counterparts. It builds on previous research by He Kāinga Oranga and expands the understanding of homelessness by examining it through a gendered lens, highlighting the unique challenges faced by women, especially indigenous Māori women. This study highlights the gender disparities within the homeless population in Aotearoa New Zealand, with a specific focus on women’s experiences compared to men’s. The paper underscores the inadequacy of traditional homelessness definitions and solutions, which often overlook the unique needs and circumstances of women, particularly those from indigenous backgrounds. Furthermore, it argues for the necessity of holistic and gender-specific approaches in addressing homelessness, such as the Housing First model, which prioritises providing permanent housing without preconditions. The study also points to the systemic issues contributing to women’s homelessness, including the impacts of colonisation, the neoliberalisation of the welfare state, and gender norms that affect women’s economic opportunities and responsibilities as caregivers.

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