Pregnant and Homeless: Helpful Resources for When You Need Help (2023)

Pregnancy is a time of joy, anticipation, and excitement for many women. However, if you live in a financially unstable situation, struggle with healthcare accessibility, and are or could potentially become homeless, pregnancy can go from a joyous time to a terrifying and overwhelming circumstance.

The Facts: Pregnancy and Homelessness

Studies have shown that homeless women have an increased chance of becoming pregnant. Recent data showed that in Minneapolis, over half the female homeless population between the ages of 15-22 had already been pregnant at least once. In addition, 30% of homeless pregnant women stated they were forced into unwanted sex or needed to have ‘survival sex’ to access food, shelter, money, or drugs. Statistics also show that 42% of fertile homeless women do not use contraception due to lack of access, financial inability to purchase, or because they were in a monogamous relationship.

It is estimated that 600,000 families and roughly 1.35 million children experience homelessness annually in the United States. According to the National Center for Homelessness, 84% of these homeless families are headed by women.

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Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on an already overwhelmed human services issue. People lost jobs, savings, and homes for a myriad of reasons. While many places offered payment forgiveness and the government extended unemployment benefits, systems were overloaded with record numbers, and case management fell far behind. Nevertheless, homelessness was an issue pre-pandemic and will continue to be one post.

When a woman becomes pregnant with an unplanned pregnancy, she is left with few options, and if she is a teen, she is more likely to be rejected from her family and become homeless.

In addition, pregnant women who do not have stable housing face more significant health risks for themselves and their babies. These health risks are not solely physical but also mental.

While there are resources and assistance programs for homeless women and pregnant women, many are unaware of these programs, not sure where or how to ask for help, or face feelings of shame and avoid seeking assistance.

If you are pregnant and homeless or are looking for ways to help someone else, this article outlines potential risks and lists available resources and ways you can aid those in need.

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Associated Risks of Being Pregnant and Homeless

Pregnant and Homeless: Helpful Resources for When You Need Help (1)

Pregnancy is in itself a major medical condition; therefore, pregnant individuals need regular medical attention to monitor their health as well as the health of their baby. Unfortunately, homeless and low-income individuals are less likely to receive adequate and regular medical care for themselves or their babies. While there is never a guarantee of a no-risk pregnancy, proper medical care provides the best bet for a healthy outcome.

Reasons for Inadequate Medical Care

  • Lack of income to pay for treatment
  • Lack of transportation to get to appointments
  • Lack of child care to watch existing children while they attend an appointment
  • Lack of health insurance
  • Lack of resources on how to obtain assistance
  • Lack of finances to pay for prenatal vitamins or other treatments

Risks of Inadequate Prenatal Care

  • Preterm labor, miscarriage, or stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Poor nutrition
  • Increased rates of depression, stress, and poor mental health
  • Higher rates of alcohol and drug use can cause congenital disabilities, preterm labor, and stillbirth
  • Post birth complications

Risks Post Birth

  • Inadequate medical care for the baby and the mother
  • Increased stress and depression for the mother
  • Lack of secure attachment for the baby
  • Unsafe and unsanitary living environments
  • Inadequate nutrition for the mother and the baby

Resources Available for Homeless Pregnant Women

Pregnant and Homeless: Helpful Resources for When You Need Help (2)

If you are homeless and pregnant or know someone who is, there are resources and organizations that can help. There are various housing assistance, mental health services, job training, and homeless prenatal programs available.

Housing Assistance

There are different types of housing assistance available when you are homeless:

Emergency Shelters are for people who find themselves suddenly homeless and may include short-term housing for women suffering from domestic violence.

Transitional Housing can include housing for up to 24 months and additional services to help individuals stabilize their situations. Transitional housing may also include domestic abuse shelters.

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Permanent Housing is safe, stable housing, which sometimes comes along with additional support services to help sufferers overcome the effects of abuse and mental health struggles.

  • Public Housing is provided in every city in America through the Public Housing Association. Public housing often has a lengthy waitlist and requires background checks and income verification.
  • Low-income housing is for people who do not require transitional housing services but still need help financially. There are income thresholds to qualify.
  • There is also rental assistance and subsidies. Landlords must accept payment vouchers. This type of housing offers a more stable environment, but finding landlords who accept the section 8 vouchers can be challenging. There are income thresholds to qualify.

The following organizations can help if you or someone you know is pregnant and homeless:

Health Care & Nutritional Assistance

One of the primary reasons low-income and homeless women do not have adequate prenatal care is because they lack health insurance. Every state offers free or low-cost insurance through Medicaid and CHIP for low-income pregnant women and children of low-income families. To receive these services, you must apply, verify proof of income, and may have to work with a caseworker via social services to qualify. Eligibility will vary from city to city or state to state.

Some cities and regions have non-profit healthcare clinics that cater to homeless and low-income individuals. There are also non-profit organizations and the federal WIC (women, infants, and children) program, which is designed to provide adequate nutrition for pregnant women, infants, and children.

Check out the following organizations to receive support, advice and information regarding health care and pregnancy if you are homeless:

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Financial & Job Assistance

Sometimes, a job is the only thing preventing a person from eviction. However, if you have recently lost your job, are unsure how you will work now you are pregnant, will need help to secure a job once you become a mother, or need help finding affordable child care, there are resources and support services that can help.

A woman cannot be denied a job or fired from a job due to her pregnancy; however, it can be difficult to prove loss of employment due to pregnancy.

Your local library is an excellent place to start. Many offer free programs, including computer training, resume help, and job fairs, and they may even provide child care during these events. In addition, a librarian is an excellent resource for the community and information in general. At the very least, libraries offer free internet, resource centers, and distractions for your child in their children’s play areas while using the computer.

Check out the following organizations to receive support, advice, and information regarding financial and career support if you are pregnant and homeless:

Tips for Homeless Pregnant Women

Pregnant and Homeless: Helpful Resources for When You Need Help (3)

Being homeless and pregnant is scary. Although it will be challenging, there are things you can do as you navigate the community services and financial assistance available to you to make things go as smoothly as possible:

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  1. Keep copies of your health and pregnancy information on your person at all times. That way, if you require emergency medical care, the medical staff will have everything they need to know before treating you.
  2. If your child attends school or spends time with a caregiver while you work or look for work, keep a copy of their contact information with you at all times.
  3. If at all possible, try and build a support system. Pregnancy and homelessness are nothing to be ashamed of. If you have no family or friends to help reach out to local organizations, look for support groups you can attend or use a library to join a safe online chat group.
  4. Make a plan to find a safe place to sleep each night
  5. Eat as healthily as possible, and contact a local women’s shelter for aid with nutrition and prenatal supplements.

Adoption, Abortion, and Parenting Resources

The following resources can help if you are considering adoption, abortion, or just want to get general advice and information about parenting:

Ways to Get Involved

If you are looking for ways to assist homeless people and support advocacy for pregnant homeless women, there are several ways you can make a difference:

  • Contact local women’s shelters and ask what items they need most. More often, it is formula, diapers, and wipes. But, of course, financial donations are also always welcome.
  • If you possess a particular skill set, contact your local library or homeless shelter and offer a free class or series of classes. Things as simple as healthy cooking and meal prep, how to write a resume, maintain basic baby care, etc., are all useful. Are you a trained barber or stylist? Offer free hair cuts or shaves.
  • Volunteer to babysit or provide childcare at a local women’s shelter so women can attend job training, interviews, and work. Typically interviews, background checks, and references are required.
  • Create homeless goody bags and pass them out. This is a great activity to do with children. Use a gallon or quart Ziploc bag and fill it with various items useful to homeless individuals such as:
    • Granola or protein bars
    • Crackers
    • Packs of nuts or trail mix
    • Water bottle
    • Travel deodorant
    • Sanitary pads
    • Toothbrush and travel toothpaste
    • Gum or mints
    • New socks
    • Bandaids
    • Travel hand sanitizer
    • Wet wipes or tissues
    • Nail file
    • Chapstick
    • A gift card to a local store (pharmacy or grocery store)

Being pregnant and homeless is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless. Some programs have a lot of red tape to cut through in order to get aid; but don’t give up. Keep working with your case manager, using free resources like the library and shelters, and look for support within your community. Help is out there. You are not alone.


What resources do homeless people need most? ›

What Do People Experiencing Homelessness Need Most Besides Shelter?
  • Socks. Living on the street, many unsheltered people rarely take their shoes off. ...
  • Personal hygiene items. ...
  • Food. ...
  • Pet food. ...
  • Gift cards and transportation passes. ...
  • Raingear. ...
  • Compassion.

Do you get housed if your pregnant? ›

If you're pregnant and homeless, you qualify for emergency housing from the council as long as you meet immigration and residence conditions. You may need proof of your pregnancy from a doctor or other health professional. The council should find you emergency housing while it looks into your application.

What kind of support can we give to those who are homeless? ›

Donating food and clothing to homeless shelters is a great way to help. You could also volunteer your time with such an organization. Educate yourself and others about homelessness and share facts about homelessness with others.

How long can the council keep you in emergency accommodation? ›

If you are in emergency housing and the council decides that they have a duty to help you secure accommodation, there is no limit as to how long you can stay in the temporary accommodation so long as: it remains suitable for you (see below) you stick to any conditions that the council has included in your agreement.

What helps the homeless the most? ›

7 Practical Ways You Can Help People Experiencing Homelessness
  • Make cards to promote nearby shelters. ...
  • Donate clothes, especially socks. ...
  • Volunteer your time. ...
  • Fundraise. ...
  • Research your local candidates. ...
  • Participate in your city's Point-in-Time count. ...
  • Remember youth homelessness.

What benefits can I claim if Im pregnant? ›

There are benefits and financial help if you're pregnant, whether you're employed or not.
  • Free prescriptions and dental care. ...
  • Healthy Start. ...
  • Tax credits. ...
  • Statutory Maternity Pay. ...
  • Maternity Allowance. ...
  • Statutory Paternity Pay. ...
  • Statutory Adoption Pay.

What benefit can I get while pregnant? ›

  • Government services available when you're having a child (Link 18)
  • Paid Parental leave (Link 19)
  • Parental Tax Credit (Link 20)
  • Working for Families Tax Credits (Link 21)
  • Child Support (Link 22)
  • Help with housing costs (Link 23)
  • Community Services Card (Link 24)

What benefits can a pregnant woman entitled to? ›

Some benefits are income-based, such as Universal Credit and Working/Child Tax Credit, and take into account your household income. If you qualify for income-based benefits you can also qualify for other benefits such as the Sure Start Maternity Grant, Healthy Start vouchers or help with housing and council tax costs.

How can homeless people get support? ›

contact Street Link / 0300 500 0914 if you are sleeping rough. They who will connect you to local services, which will be able to help you. You can also contact Street Link if you are a member of the public who is worried about somebody who is sleeping rough.

How can homeless people make money? ›

You can find jobs at local motels, hotels, restaurants, businesses, and homes to clean and housekeep. Often, this can earn a good amount of money if you make a good impression and are thorough and reliable with your cleaning. Work in construction.

What facilities are provided by the government to the homeless? ›

Family shelters: Separate family shelters with adequate privacy and separate rooms should be provided. Special shelters: It shall cater to the special needs of the persons such as old persons without care, mentally ill, sick persons, recovering patients and their families and other special circumstances.

Does being pregnant help you get a council house? ›

If you're pregnant, you're considered a priority need for housing. If you are currently homeless or are facing homelessness within the next eight weeks – including if you have received a valid 21 notice from your landlord – you should make an application to your local council.

Can I claim housing benefit when pregnant? ›

If you are already getting income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Housing Benefit when you become pregnant you can continue to get these until your baby is born.

How do I get a council house when pregnant UK? ›

The council must give you emergency housing while they look into your situation. You should not be refused emergency housing if you cannot provide proof of pregnancy or children when you first ask for help.

When should I tell my council Im pregnant? ›

All changes in your pregnancy must be reported within 1 month.


1. How I Created My Dream Life In 1 Year -PREGNANT & HOMELESS to building a successful online business.
2. Metro Health working to improve birth outcomes for homeless women by connecting them to resources
(KSAT 12)
3. Helping pregnant women who are experiencing homelessness
(WRTV Indianapolis)
4. SVT 2019: Forsake Me Not- Better Care for Pregnant Women Experiencing Homelessness
(National Health Care for the Homeless Council)
5. Pregnant Homeless Women Struggle On Bay Area Streets
(KPIX CBS SF Bay Area)
6. Pregnant, Homeless, and Feeling Alone
(I Am Not Alone)
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