Update: Society: More women seek Shelter

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The Independent Online
Record numbers of women are seeking help because of homelessness and poor housing, according to the charity Shelter.

The organisation said that more than 36,000 women - around a third of all clients - approached its network of advice centres during 1996-97. While the majority (21,414) were homeless, a further 10,000 had problems such as mortgage and rent arrears, and 5 per cent needed advice about accommodation problems such as domestic violence and landlord harassment.

"These figures explode the myth that homelessness is just a male problem," said Louise Casey, Shelter's deputy director. "Instead, they paint a disturbing picture of women whose lives are blighted by housing problems.

"Some of the most tragic cases we deal with are those involving women who flee a violent partner only to face the trauma of homelessness. This very vulnerable group are still not given priority for housing by many local authorities and all too often miss out on the safety and support they desperately need." The charity is calling for improved central and local government policies which reflect the diverse housing needs of women.

- Glenda Cooper, Social Affairs Correspondent