Health Problems among Chronically Homeless People: A Re-Examination

Adam M. Lippert, Pennsylvania State University
Barrett A. Lee, Pennsylvania State University

A key obstacle in battling homelessness is the high prevalence of health problems among homeless individuals. Recent definitions of homeless ‘types’ acknowledge this, as a common criterion for chronic homelessness is the presence of disabilities. Our study tests the validity of using disabilities and other morbidities as features unique to the chronically homeless. Using data from a nationally representative study of the homeless in 1996, we examine health and drug use outcomes across four categories of homelessness: chronic, transitional, highly episodic, and a residual category. Moderating effects of race/ethnicty are also explored. Findings: Health and drug use problems are common in this sample, particularly among chronically and episodically homeless. Multivariate models show that (1) the chronically and episodically homeless show few statistically significant differences across health outcomes, and (2) this pattern varies for whites compared to African Americans. Findings suggest that health problems are not unique to the chronically homeless.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 4