Studies on Prevalence, Incidence, and Risk Factors

Homelessness Amongst U.S. Youth

American Institutes for Research


The American Institutes for Research and the National Center on Family Homelessness published a brief on Homelessness Among U.S. Youth to help build capacity among youth providers and systems of care. The report describes challenges facing youth experiencing homelessness, and summarizes important features for community and national responses to youth homelessness, drawn from the USICH Framework to End Youth Homelessness, including trauma-informed care, assessing risk and protective factors, and focusing on the four core outcomes of stable housing, education and employment, social-emotional well-being, and permanent connections.

The TAY Triage Tool: A Tool to Identify Homeless Transition Age Youth Most in Need of Permanent Supportive Housing

Eric Rice                                                                                                          

November 2013

The TAY Triage tool, commissioned by CSH, allows a user to quickly and easily identify the most vulnerable youth, based off of six, relatively non-invasive questions. 

Homelessness Recurrence in Georgia: Descriptive Statistics, Risk Factors, and Contextualized Outcome Measurement

Jason Rodriguez


In order to better understand how service providers can successfully house people experiencing homelessness, they must first know what is working and what is not. This study analyzes homeless recurrence amongst a population in Georgia in order to investigate the risk factors of recurrence and then uses this data to create useful predictive models of recurrence that providers can use.

Prevalence and Risk of Homelessness among U.S. Veterans

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

December 2012                                                                 

The objective of this study was to provide a more detailed assessment of risk for homelessness among veterans than has been previously reported, in comparison with the nonveteran population and after controlling for various demographic characteristics. Specifically, 1) Is veteran status associated with an increased risk of homelessness? and 2) Does risk of homelessness among veterans vary as a function of age, race, and sex?                        

Do Homeless Veterans Have the Same Needs and Outcomes as Non-Veterans

Jack Tsai, Alvin S. Mares, and Robert A. Rosenheck,                                                                                 December 2012

This observational study compared 162 chronically homeless Veterans to 388 non-Veterans enrolled in a national-supported housing initiative over a 1-year period. Results showed that Veterans  . . .

2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness: Volume I of the 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR)

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 
December 2012 

This report outlines the key findings of the 2012 Point-In-Time (PIT) counts conducted in January 2012. Specifically, this report provides 2012 PIT estimates and national PIT estimates of homelessness, as well as national estimates of homelessness by state, estimates of chronic homelessness, and estimates of homeless veterans.

The Seventh Annual (2011) Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
December 2012

The 2011 AHAR presents the most recent national estimates of homelessness, focusing on people who experience homelessness by themselves, as family members, and as members of specific subpopulations. For each of these populations, the estimates describe how homelessness has changed over time and provide a demographic profile of homelessness in America.

Veterans Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 AHAR Report

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
October 2011

HUD and VA published the second annual supplemental report which analyzes the extent and nature of homelessness among American veterans. According to the report....

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...

The Sixth Annual (2010) Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
July 2011
The 2010 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) provides the results of local counts of people homeless on a single night in January, as well as estimates of the number, characteristics, and service patterns of all people...

High Burden of Homelessness Among Sexual-Minority Adolescents: Findings From a Representative Massachusetts High School Sample

Heather Corliss, Carol Goodenow, Lauren Nichols, and S. Bryn Austin
July 2011

In this study, researchers compared the prevalence of current homelessness among adolescents reporting a minority sexual orientation (lesbian/gay, bisexual, unsure, or heterosexual with same-sex sexual partners) with that among exclusively heterosexual adolescents.  The researchers combined data from the 2005 and 2007 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a representative sample of public school students in grades 9 through 12 (n = 6317).   Approximately 25% of lesbian/gay and 15% of bisexual Massachusetts public high school students were homeless, compared with only 3% of their heterosexual counterparts...

Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
December 2010

This report, a supplement to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, is the result of ongoing collaboration between HUD and the VA to understand the extent and nature of homelessness among veterans in the United States.

The Fifth Annual (2009) Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
July 2010

The 2009 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) report is intended for policymakers, planners, and service providers who seek current homelessness data to help them respond to the needs of the nation's homeless population. The AHAR report provides...

Homeless Families and Children

John C. Buckner and Debra J. Rog
May 6, 2010

Since the mid-1990s, there has been continued research and policy interest in understanding the characteristics and needs of families and children who become homeless, especially in understanding the heterogeneity within the population and whether a “typology” of families can be created (i.e., distinguishing families with greater ...

Characteristics of Help-Seeking Street Youth and Non-Street Youth

Alma C. Molino
May 6, 2010

Alma Molino, a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, was selected through a competitive process to prepare a paper on her research on runaway and homeless youth. The author used data collected from callers to the National Runaway Switchboard to describe the characteristics and issues facing a large ...

Risk Factors for First-Time Homelessness in Low-Income Women

Erika R. Lehmann, Christiana M. Drake, Philip H. Kass and Sara B. Nichols
March 24, 2010

Determinants of first-time homelessness were evaluated in Sacramento, California and Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. First-time homeless women had more cumulative risks for homelessness than low-income never-homeless women, even with the putative advantage of higher levels of education. Researchers ...

Homeless Near a Thousand Homes: Outcomes of Homeless Youth in a Shelter

Carol Cornsweet Barber, Peter Fonagy, Jim Fultz, Mary Ann Simulinas and Miranda Yates
March 24, 2010

Clients who received crisis services at a homeless shelter for transition-aged youth were recruited for a study to understand more about the youth served, to track outcomes of care, and to examine factors associated with differing outcomes.  Participants were 202 men and women who ...

The Fourth Annual (2008) Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
July 2009

The 2008 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) is intended for policymakers, planners, and service providers who seek homelessness data to help them respond to the needs of the nation's homeless population.

Risk Factors for Homelessness: Evidence from a Population-Based Study

Katherine H. Shelton, Pamela J. Taylor, Adrian Bonner and Marianne van den Bree
April 2009

This study examined factors associated with lifetime experience of homelessness among young adults. Data were analyzed for 14,888 young adults who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a U.S. nationally representative, population-based sample. Data were ...

Individual Characteristics of the Literally Homeless, Marginally Housed, and Impoverished in a US Substance Abuse Treatment-Seeking Sample

Karin M. Eyrich-Garg, John S. Cacciola, Deni Carise, Kevin G. Lynch and A. Thomas McLellan
October 2008

Many researchers and clinicians believe that understanding substance use problems is key to understanding homelessness. This study’s purpose was to test, in a national sample of urban substance abuse treatment seekers, whether (1) income was related to amount of money spent on ...

Subjective Versus Objective Definitions of Homelessness: Are There Differences in Risk Factors Among Heavy-Drinking Women?

Karin M. Eyrich-Garg, Catina Callahan O’Leary and Linda B. Cottler
September 2008

Investigations with homeless populations have focused on those living on the streets or in shelters; few have examined phenomena based on respondents’ self-identification as homeless. This investigation examined similarities and differences among risk factors (including mental health, substance ...

Predictors of Homelessness and Doubling-Up Among at Risk Families

Angela Fertig and David Reingold
August 2008

Over the last 25 years homeless families with children have emerged as a distinct subgroup of the U.S. homeless population. In 2007, between one-third and one-half of all homeless persons in the United States were members of families with children. Among homeless women, approximately two-thirds were living with minor children, 80% of whom were ...

The Third Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
July 2008

The 2007 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR)  is the third report in a series of reports on homelessness in the United States and the first to be based on a full year of Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) data reported by communities across the country.

Predictors of Homelessness Among Street Living Youth

Natasha Slesnick, Suzanne Bartle-Haring, Pushpanjali Dashora, Min Ju Kang and Erin Aukward
April 2008

While few studies have identified predictors of exiting homelessness among adults, even fewer studies have attempted to identify these predictors among homeless youth. This study explored predictors of change in homelessness among 180 homeless youth between the ages of 14 and 22, recruited ...

The Second Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
March 2008

The second Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) makes use of two primary data sources. The first is HMIS data on the number...

A Longitudinal Study of Early Adolescent Precursors to Running Away

Kimberly A. Tyler and Bianca E. Bersani
February 2008

Although previous research has examined correlates of running away among samples of currently homeless and runaway adolescents, little is known about what factors will predict the likelihood that a housed adolescent with no prior history of running away will leave home. As such, the current study uses the National Longitudinal Survey of ...

Promising Strategies to End Youth Homelessness

Family and Youth Services Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families

When the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act was reauthorized in 2003 by the Runaway, Homeless, and Missing Children Protection Act, it included a provision for a report on promising strategies to end youth homelessness. The report provides members of Congress information on the needs of the homeless youth ...

Characteristics and Dynamics of Homeless Families with Children

Debra J. Rog, C. Scott Holupka and Lisa C. Patton
Fall 2007

Westat, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Evaluation and Program Improvement, was contracted by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to conceptualize a typology of homeless families. Through this project, and in ...

The First Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
February 2007

This report is intended for policymakers, planners, and service providers who seek current homelessness data to help them respond to the needs of the nation's homeless population.

Psychiatric Illness and Substance Abuse among Homeless Asian-American Veterans

Sabina Lim, Wesley J. Kasprow, and Robert A. Rosenheck
May 2006

This study examined the proportion of Asian Americans among homeless veterans and among veterans in the general population to calculate the relative risk of homelessness among Asian-American veterans. It also examined differences in rates of psychiatric and substance use disorders between...

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 ...

Risk Factors For Long-Term Homelessness

Carol L. M. Caton, Boanerges Dominguez, Bella Schanzer,  Deborah S. Hasin, Patrick E. Shrout, Alan Felix, Hunter McQuistion, Lewis A. Opler and Eustace Hsu
October 2005

This study examines risk factors for long-term homelessness among newly homeless men and women who were admitted to New York City shelters in 2001 and 2002.  Interviews were conducted with 377 study participants ...

Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth Review of Literature (1995-2005)

Jan Moore
July 2005

This project is based on a review of 1995 to 2005 literature on issues concerning unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. It provides an overview of the challenges these young people face and includes research about why they leave their homes, how they live after leaving, and what interventions are being used to assist them. It is broken down into sections on ...

Characteristics of Individuals With Severe Mental Illness Who Use Emergency Services

Alexander S. Young, Matthew J. Chinman, Julie A. Cradock-O’Leary, Green Sullivan, Dennis Murata, Jim Mintz and Paul Koegel
April 2005

Emergency services are both a safety net and a locus for acute treatment. While the population with severe, persistent mental illness uses emergency services at a high rate, few studies have systematically examined the causes of this service use. This ...

Transitions through Homelessness and Factors That Predict Them

Robert G. Orwin, Chris K. Scott and Carlos Arieira
March 2005

In this study, "Transitions through Homelessness and Factors That Predict Them: Three-Year Treatment Outcomes," researchers examine the course of homelessness among adults entering treatment in the Chicago Target Cities sample, which was aimed at improving the service delivery system in large metropolitan areas across the ...

An Empirical Investigation of the Determinants of Street Homelessness

Dirk W. Early
March 2005

This study examines the determinants of street homelessness by developing and estimating a model that captures the timing of events that lead to street homelessness. In the model, the first outcome is whether the household is in housing or is homeless. Conditional on being homeless, the second outcome is whether the household enters the shelter system. The results ...

Prevalence and Risk Factors For Homelessness and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among 10,340 Patients With Serious Mental Illness in a Large Public Mental Health System

David P. Folsom, William Hawthorne, Laurie Lindamer,  Todd Gilmer, Anne Bailey, Shahrokh Golshan, Piedad Garcia, Jürgen Unützer, Richard Hough,and Dilip V. Jeste
February 2005

The authors examined the prevalence of and risk factors for homelessness among all patients treated for serious mental illnesses in a large public mental health system in a 1-year period. The use of ...

Child welfare involvement among children in homeless families

Jung Min Park
October 2004

An analysis of 8,251 homeless children in New York City found that 18% of them received child welfare services over the five-year period following their first shelter admission, and an additional 6% had a history of having received such services before their first shelter admission. Recurrent use of public shelters...

Perceived Relationship of Military Service and Homelessness among Homeless Veterans with Mental Illness

Alvin S. Mares and Robert A. Rosenheck
October 2004

This study examined the perceived relationship between military service and the risk of homelessness after discharge and identified specific aspects of military service that homeless veterans experience as having increased their risk for becoming homeless. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among...

The Determinants of Homelessness and the Targeting of Housing Assistance

Dirk W. Early
January 2004

This study combines data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation with the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients to estimate a conditional probability model of homelessness. The results suggest which factors are important predictors of homelessness and argue that gender, age, and race of the household head are important ...

Factors influencing Homelessness in Women

Debra Gay Anderson
January 2004

The specific aims of the article were to: (i) compare childhood experiences of intimacy and autonomy as they occurred in the families of origin of women who have and women who have not experienced homelessness; (ii) compare social support, reciprocity, and conflict as they occurred in the childhood support networks and in the current support networks of women who have and women who have not experienced homelessness; (iii) examine the relationships between...

Determinants of Homelessness in Metropolitan Areas

Barrett A. Lee, Townsand Price-Spratlen, James W. Kanan
July 2003

Why do rates of homelessness differ across metropolitan contexts? Only tentative answers to this question are provided by previous investigations due to their reliance on a limited range of settings and independent variables. In an effort to be more comprehensive, researchers in this study use 1990 Census S-Night data for 335 ...

Overrepresentation of Women Veterans among Homeless Women

Gail Gamache, Robert Rosenheck and Richard Tessler
July 2003

This study estimated the proportion of veterans among homeless women and their risk of homelessness relative to that of nonveterans. Data came from two surveys of homeless women (one clinical and one nonclinical) and one survey of domiciled women. The proportion of veterans (4.4%, 3.1%) among homeless women was greater than...

Incidence and Prevalence of Homeless and Runaway Youth

Jody M. Greene, Rebecca Sanchez, Jennie Harris, Connie Cignetti, Don Akin, and Sara Wheeless
May 2003

Homeless, runaway, and throwaway youth (HRTY) constitute a high-risk population that urgently requires the attention of policy makers.  Although little is known about this population, studies suggest that compared with their domiciled peers, HRTY are at significantly greater risk for ...

TANF Leavers: Examining the Relationship Between the Receipt of Housing Assistance and Post-TANF Well-Being

David C. Mancuso, Charles J. Lieberman, Vanessa L. Lindler, and Anne Moses

This article describes the results of a study conducted in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties, California, to learn more about the circumstances of families leaving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and about the effects of housing assistance on post-TANF outcomes. The study ...

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...

Subsidized Housing, Emergency Shelters, and Homelessness: An Empirical Investigation Using Data from the 1990 Census

Dirk W. Early and Edgar O. Olsen
July 2001

This paper uses data on the only systematic count of the homeless throughout the United States to estimate the effect on the rate of homelessness of a wide variety of potentially important determinants, including several major policy responses to homelessness that have not been included in previous studies. It improves upon estimates of the effect ...

NISMART Bulletin: Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics

Heather Hammer, David Finkelhor, and Andrea J. Sedlak
August 2000

The words “missing child” call to mind tragic and frightening kidnappings reported in the national news. But a child can be missing for many reasons, and the problem of missing children is far more complex than the headlines suggest. Getting a clear picture of how many children become missing—and ...

Homelessness Among Persons With Serious Mental Illness

Eri Kuno, Aileen B. Rothbard, June Avery and Dennis Culhane
August 2000

Homelessness and patterns of service use were examined among seriously mentally ill persons in an area with a well-funded community-based mental health system.  The sample consisted of 438 individuals referred between 1990 and 1992 to an extended acute care psychiatric hospital after a stay in a general hospital. ...

Applying Cluster Analysis to Test a Typology of Homelessness

Randall Kuhn and Dennis P. Culhane
April 1998

This study tests a typology of homelessness using administrative data on public shelter use in New York City (1988–1995) and Philadelphia (1991–1995). Cluster analysis is used to produce three groups (transitionally, episodically, and chronically homeless) by number of shelter days and number of shelter episodes. Results show that ...