Stable housing remains a key social determinant of health that directly impacts health outcomes. Without the safety and comfort of a home, it is exceptionally challenging to take care of basic health needs, let alone manage chronic or debilitating health conditions.
The most frequently reported permanent or long-term health conditions among people experiencing homelessness include serious mental health conditions (35%), chronic health conditions (28%), physical disabilities (25%), and substance use (24%).
Mental illness and/or substance use and these conditions may not have been present before housing loss.
While people experiencing homelessness may have a higher prevalence of mental illness and substance use than the general population, the trauma associated with the experience of homelessness and the stress of meeting basic needs for survival can trigger or exacerbate these disorders that may or may not have been present before their housing loss.
Nearly 1 in 3 people sleeping in unsheltered locations (30%) reported needing medical care that they were unable to get within the last 12 months. Of those who reported having an unmet medical need, the most commonly cited barriers included not being able to get an appointment with a doctor (23%), not having insurance (20%), transportation difficulties (17%), and past negative experiences (17%). People experiencing chronic homelessness were more likely to have unmet medical needs (38%) than the overall homeless population.