Homelessness Research in the American Journal of Public Health

written by Martena Reed
January 14, 2014

Research on homelessness has progressed tremendously. The way we get data has expanded from telephone survey to massive in-person interview efforts and incorporation of HMIS data. Studies once focused mostly on describing the demographic characteristics of people experiencing homelessness, but now we have a range research that tells us how people fare over time, their service needs, effectiveness of various interventions, and the list goes on.

Continuing to build on our knowledge, a recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) focuses specifically on homelessness research. The issue opens with a piece by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki declaring that “Homelessness Is a Public Health Issue” followed by a summary of the progress and future of homelessness research and its influence on policy and practice.

One of the studies examined the relationship between community characteristics and rates of homelessness using community-level demographic, behavioral, health, economic, and safety factors and Point-in-Time Counts. Results showed:

  • In metropolitan CoCs, alcohol use, social support, and economic variables such as median household income, unemployment rate, and rent burden were related to family homelessness rates. Drug use, homicide, and car theft rates were related to rates of single adult homelessness.
  • For non-metropolitan CoCs, life expectancy, religious devotion, rent burden were related to family homelessness, and access to health care, crime rates, receipt of SSI, and economic factors including property value, housing -hold income, and mortgage burden were related to single adult homelessness.

You’ll find loads of helpful articles in the issue. Housing and service need profiles of homeless veterans, targeting of homelessness prevention, homelessness and the transition from foster care to adulthood are just a few of the topics covered in this AJPH issue. All of these topics and more are at your fingertips--you can check out the issue, editorials, and abstracts for all of the articles online. We’ll also continue to profile articles from this AJPH issue throughout our blog posts this year.