Risk factors for long-term homelessness: findings from a longitudinal study of first-time homeless single adults

Am J Public Health. 2005 Oct;95(10):1753-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.063321. Epub 2005 Aug 30.


Objectives: We examined risk factors for long-term homelessness among newly homeless men and women who were admitted to New York City shelters in 2001 and 2002.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 377 study participants upon entry into the shelter and at 6-month intervals for 18 months. Standardized assessments of psychiatric diagnosis, symptoms, and coping skills; social and family history; and service use were analyzed. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox regression were used to examine the association between baseline assessments and duration of homelessness.

Results: Eighty-one percent of participants returned to community housing during the follow-up period; the median duration of homelessness was 190 days. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that a shorter duration of homelessness was associated with younger age, current or recent employment, earned income, good coping skills, adequate family support, absence of a substance abuse treatment history, and absence of an arrest history. Cox regression showed that older age group P<.05) and arrest history (P<.01) were the strongest predictors of a longer duration of homelessness.

Conclusions: Identification of risk factors for long-term homelessness can guide efforts to reduce lengths of stay in homeless shelters and to develop new preventive interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / education
  • Ill-Housed Persons / psychology
  • Ill-Housed Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Problems / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors