The Duration of Homelessness: Evidence from a National Survey

Sam Allgood


This paper provides evidence on the determinants of the duration of homelessness.  Newly available data from a large-scale, comprehensive microeconomic survey was used to estimate a parametric survival model of the length of a spell of homelessness.  Homeless spells are longer for persons with certain demographic characteristics (such as older men) and behavioral histories (for example, previous incarceration and a history of drug and alcohol abuse). The results suggest that current eligibility criteria for receiving housing assistance, which give preference to drug-free, single women with young children, are unlikely to reduce homelessness substantially and in a cost-effective manner.

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