Poor health is closely associated with homelessness. For families struggling to pay the rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction. Homelessness and health care are intimately interwoven. Poor health is both a cause and a result of homelessness. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council (2008) estimates that 70% of Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) clients do not have health insurance. Moreover, approximately 14% of people treated by homeless health care programs are children under the age of 15. Inadequate health insurance is itself a cause for homelessness. Many people without health insurance have low incomes and do not have the resources to pay for health services on their own. A serious injury or illness in the family could result in insurmountable expenses for hospitalizations, tests, and treatment. For many, this forces a choice between hospital bills or rent. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (2008), half of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are caused by health problems. Health care is even more of a problem for people who are already homeless. Homeless people are three to six times more likely to become ill than housed people (National Health Care for the Homeless Council, 2008). Homelessness precludes good nutrition, good personal hygiene, and basic first aid, adding to the complex health needs of homeless people. Additionally, conditions which require regular, uninterrupted treatment, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, are extremely difficult to treat or control among those without adequate housing.
Last date updated on June, 2014