Comparison of white and nonwhite homeless men and women

Soc Work. 1994 Nov;39(6):639-47.


The majority of the homeless population are people of color. There has been little study of racial differences among the homeless population, and racial findings have not been reported separately for homeless men and women. This study investigated differences between white and nonwhite homeless people in a randomly selected sample of 600 homeless men and 300 homeless women in St. Louis. The 900 homeless people were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule and Homeless Supplement. About three-fourths of the sample were African Americans. The homelessness of the white people was more often internally related, for example, substance abuse in men and non-substance abuse psychiatric illness in women. The homelessness of nonwhite people was more often externally related, for example, socioeconomic problems caused by lower incomes for men and reliance on a failing welfare system by women and their dependent families. These differences point to potentially divergent emphases for intervention with these subpopulations. Because of the diversity within racial subgroups, however, all need a variety of interventions for both external and internal problems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Epidemiologic Factors
  • Female
  • Homeless Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Missouri / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Whites*