Homelessness in the United States: Assessing Changes in Prevalence and Public Opinion, 1993–2001

Carolyn J. Tompsett, Paul A. Toro, Melissa Guzicki, Manuel Manrique and Jigna Zatakia

March 2006

A national survey was administered in 1993–1994 and repeated in 2001 to assess the prevalence of homelessness as well as attitudes, opinions, and knowledge regarding homelessness.  No significant changes in prevalence were found, despite a strong US economy during most of the 7–8 year period. Respondents in 2001 had less stereotyped views of homeless people and were more supportive of services, but came to see homelessness as a less serious problem that was less often due to economic factors. This “mixed” set of findings may reflect both beliefs on the benefits of a good economy and an increased awareness of the complexity of homelessness. Across the surveys, younger, female, liberal, and less wealthy respondents demonstrated more sympathetic attitudes towards homeless people.

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