Childhood Risk Factors for Homelessness Among Homeless Adults

Published In: American Journal of Public Health, v. 85, no. 12, Dec. 1995, p. 1642-1649

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1995

by Paul Koegel, Elan Melamid, M. Audrey Burnam

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Using data from the Course of Homelessness Study and secondary data on the general population, the authors of this article report that problems that homeless individuals experience as adults have very clear analogs in their childhood. Substantial numbers of the homeless who were sampled experienced multiple problems as children across several domains, including poverty, residential instability, and family problems. Homeless women and whites disproportionately reported experiences suggestive of personal or family problems, whereas nonwhite disproportionately reported experiences suggestive of poverty. This uneven vulnerability to homelessness has important implications for policies that target early childhood experiences as the root of homelessness.

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