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The rise of communal living

Kimber mentioned in her video that she’s thinking about moving back in with her parents, who live in Arkansas, so she wouldn’t have to pay rent.

But this isn’t feasible for everyone, so single moms are looking at alternatives.

“I kinda feel like we should start moving in together,” one commenter wrote. “A large rental house with 2-3 single moms sounds so much easier to manage.”

USA Today and Parade reported that these “mommunes” are a real thing, increasing in popularity amongst single moms.

It essentially allows single moms to live together, split expenses, share parenting tasks and divide up household chores.

This means that single moms not only have less stress, but also more time to earn money. A Women and Gender Studies professor told Parade that many single moms fail to receive promotions because they don’t have the extra time to dedicate to work.

Kimber herself struggled with this. She said that her previous corporate job required “too many hours for a single mom.” But she needed it for health insurance because her son was diagnosed with cancer. In August, she was laid off.

A “mommune” would have likely helped Kimber during this time; she’d even mentioned wanting to join one on her Instagram. She would have been able to rely on the other single moms to help watch her kids while she went on job interviews, as well as felt less stress about not having an income because she was splitting her living expenses.

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How ‘mommunes’ help the economy

Kimber isn’t alone in her struggle. Single mothers have the highest poverty rates amongst families, according to a research paper from Columbia University and the U.S. Census Bureau.

In July 2021, the federal government expanded the eligibility (and amount) for the monthly child tax credit, according to NPR. Roughly 35 million families received between $250 to $300 a month for each child.

The credits seemed to not just help parents, but the entire economy. In 2021, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) — which measures poverty rates in the U.S. — was at a historic low at 7.8%, according to the Census Bureau. The SPM child poverty rate fell by 46%, another historic low.

But in December 2021, NPR reported that Congress abruptly discontinued the expanded child tax credit. This had a huge impact on parents, especially as the Consumer Price Index increased by 5.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ records.

As a mother of four in Durham, North Carolina, told NPR: “To lose that money, especially when the price of everything has skyrocketed... I just feel really abandoned by this country.”

The 2022 SPM showed how not having that expanded child tax credit hurt the entire economy: the SPM poverty rate shot up to 12.4%, a huge increase from 2021 — and was the first increase since 2010.

It particularly affected the SPM child poverty rate, which doubled from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022. Though the discontinued tax credits aren’t entirely to blame, they certainly didn’t help parents who had to contend with the rising increase in general cost of living.

This isn’t just bad for individuals, but for the entire economy. UNICEF said that high child poverty rates often means many kids don’t develop into adults with commercial skills for the workforce. Even if they do, they often end up earning lower wages.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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