The old homeless and the new homelessness in historical perspective

Am Psychol. 1990 Aug;45(8):954-9. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.45.8.954.


In the 1950s and 1960s homelessness declined to the point that researchers were predicting its virtual disappearance in the 1970s. Instead, in the 1980s, homelessness increased rapidly and drastically changed in composition. The "old homeless" of the 1950s were mainly old men living in cheap hotels on skid rows. The new homeless were much younger, more likely to be minority group members, suffering from greater poverty, and with access to poorer sleeping quarters. In addition, homeless women and families appeared in significant numbers. However, there were also points of similarity, especially high levels of mental illness and substance abuse.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / history*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty / history*
  • United States