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Mother’s Day is a time of celebration. But while many moms enjoy gifts of flowers, breakfast in bed and handmade cards, countless single mothers in Calgary are experiencing the harsh challenges of homelessness.

The Women’s National Housing & Homelessness Network (WNHHN) reports that 90% of families using emergency shelters in Canada are headed by single women. This figure is mirrored in work at Calgary’s Inn from the Cold, where single mothers lead 60% of the family’s accessing services. Recent research by the Salvation Army indicates that 40% of single-parent households fear they do not have enough income to cover their basic needs. These numbers paint a picture of the burden single mothers bear in the face of homelessness. 

But in our experience, single mothers battling homelessness aren’t just numbers; they are resilient individuals navigating a labyrinth of hardships to love and care for their children. 

Economic inequality, stretched social support networks, and systemic barriers compound their situations, raising the risk of homelessness. This issue goes beyond mere housing insecurity, bleeding into mental health, employment prospects, and overall well-being.

Imagine a mother trying to shield her children from the realities of poverty, yet unable to provide them with a stable home. The decision between putting food on the table or securing a roof over their heads is just one example of the urgency of the situation—an issue that demands our attention and action.

Consider this: in Alberta, a single mother with one young child can receive roughly $1,850 in monthly income support. Yet, with the average rent for a bachelor apartment at $1,525 (according to, April 2024 reports), the remaining $325 scarcely covers basic necessities like food, clothing, school supplies, utilities or transportation. Let alone “extra” money for extracurricular activities, recreation and other opportunities critical to a child’s growth and development. This highlights the urgent need for better support for struggling single mothers and calls for policymakers to come up with more effective solutions. 

As we honour mothers this Mother’s Day, let’s not forget those who are facing homelessness and poverty – the ones hardest hit by the housing crisis and inflation. Their stories deserve to be heard, their struggles acknowledged, and their dignity restored.

Awareness alone won’t suffice. 

We are advocating for solutions that address the root causes of homelessness among single mothers. This includes more affordable housing initiatives, expanding access to childcare and education, increasing financial support, and dismantling systemic barriers that lead to economic inequality.

You can take action today by advocating for policy changes, voicing your support for affordable housing, contributing to organizations like Inn from the Cold, or volunteering your time.

At the same time, let’s cultivate a culture of empathy and support, where single mothers facing homelessness are met with compassion and opportunities for a better life. Empowering them with resources, opportunities, and a sense of belonging isn’t just kind—it makes society stronger.

This Mother’s Day, honour the resilience of single mothers facing homelessness by amplifying their voices, advocating for their rights, and working toward a future where no mother, family or child has to endure the indignity of homelessness.

Heather Morley & Dr. Katrina Milaney
Heather Morley is the CEO of Inn from the Cold, Calgary’s largest family homeless shelter.
Dr. Katrina Milaney is Vice President of Research at the University of Calgary and co-author of the 2017 research study Understanding Mothers’ Experiencing Homelessness

Read the Calgary Herald article here.