The Health of Homeless Adults in New York City, New York City Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Homeless Services (2005)

White Papers and Reports

This report discusses relationships between homelessness and health and puts them in context by studying the health of the homeless population in New York City. As the report notes, having physical illness and deteriorating mental health can contribute to a person becoming homeless, while homelessness itself can put individuals at further health risk. The report includes statistics on the estimated demographics of homeless individuals using the adult shelter systems, the existing health care services for sheltered homeless residents, and the death rates and causes of death among this population. It discusses the effect of many illnesses among the homeless population, and specifically includes a section on HIV, discussing it as "a condition of major concern in the homeless population." The report reveals that HIV/AIDS rates among the homeless in New York City is more than twice as high as among the general adult population. HIV/AIDS accounted for 31% of deaths among single adults who used the shelters, compared with less than 5% of deaths among adults in New York City. African-American adults had the highest proportion of deaths due to HIV/AIDS among all race/ethnicity groups. Among women who used the single adult shelter system, HIV/AIDS accounted for the largest proportion of deaths compared to any other cause.

The report concludes with policy recommendations, such as increasing HIV prevention education and resources in homeless shelters by expanding the availability of condoms and information, and improving the identification of homeless adults with HIV who qualify for preferential housing.