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What are the causes of homelessness?
Each night, hundreds of thousands of people experience homelessness in the United States. Some of these people experience chronic homelessness, while others have temporarily lost their shelter. The reasons why they are homelessness are complex. They can include a combination of factors such as:
- Lack of affordable housing
- Mental and substance use disorders
- Trauma and violence
- Intimate partner violence
- Justice-system involvement
- Sudden serious illness
- Death of a partner or parent
What is the link between homelessness and health?
Poor health can contribute to homelessness. And being homeless can contribute to poor health. Many of the problems that people experiencing homelessness face can make their health worse, including:
- Limited access to health care
- Problems getting enough food
- Trouble staying safe
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Exposure to severe weather
What are some of the common health problems that people experiencing homelessness have?
Some of the common health problems that people experiencing homelessness may have include:
- Lung diseases, including bronchitis, tuberculosis, and pneumonia
- Mental health problems
- Substance use problems
- Wounds and skin infections
Many people experiencing homelessness are dealing with trauma. They may have been abused or assaulted. This includes children, who are at risk for emotional and behavioral problems.
Contact your local homelessness assistance agency to get the help you need, such as access to shelters, health centers, and free meals.
- Homelessness Assistance Programs (Department of Housing and Urban Development)
- COVID-19: People Experiencing Homelessness (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- For Homeless Veterans (Department of Veterans Affairs)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Homelessness (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Patient and provider perspectives on barriers and facilitators to reproductive healthcare...
- Article: Experience of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic in Tower Hamlets, London:...
- Article: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people experiencing homelessness: a...
- Homelessness and Health -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- HRSA: Find a Health Center (Health Resources and Services Administration)
- Running Away (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Understanding Traumatic Stress in Children (National Center on Family Homelessness) - PDF
- Teens Homeless with Families More Likely to Self-Harm, Consider and Attempt Suicide than Youth with Homes (American Academy of Pediatrics)