Prevalence and Risk of Homelessness among US Veterans: A Multisite Investigation

Jamison Fargo, Stephen Metraux, Thomas Byrne, Ellen Munley, Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, Harlan Jones, George Sheldon, and Dennis Culhane

August 2011

This study analyzes HMIS and American Community Survey data from seven jurisdictions to assess the prevalence and relative risk for homelessness among veterans by race, sex, age and poverty status. Results show that among the homeless population, approximately 14% of adult males and 2% of adult females are veterans. For males, this proportion is about 30% greater than the proportion of Veterans in the general population, and twice as large as the proportion of veterans in the population living below the poverty threshold. Similarly among the female homeless population, veterans are overrepresented compared to the general population by a factor of two, and by a factor of three when compared to the population living in poverty. The number of homeless veterans account for approximately 1% of male veterans and 2% of female veterans in the general population. These rates are higher for veterans identifying as black (4% for males, 5% for females). When looking only at veterans living below the poverty threshold, homeless veterans are 15% (regardless of sex) of this population, with this rate increasing to 30% when only looking at black veterans living in poverty. In multivariable analyses, veteran status was associated with increased risk of homelessness. For instance, after controlling for poverty, age, race, and geographic variation, female veterans are three times as likely as female non-Veterans to become homeless, and male Veterans are twice as likely as male non-veterans to become homeless. In terms of age, across the general homeless population (Veterans and non-Veterans), males have the highest risk for homelessness in the 45–54 year age group. For females, risk for homelessness is highest among the 18–29 year age group and risk declines as age increases. Black race (compared to all others) is consistently identified as a strong risk factor for homelessness, with little variation across sex.

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