Homelessness And Its Impact On Health: A Critical Analysis

Concept of Homelessness


Explain what homelessness is and how is affects a person’s health with a holistic concept of health as well as how it affect the wider community.

One of the major issues faced by people at large is that of homelessness. This has been a severe issue which suggests the condition of people as without having a regular dwelling. People that are homeless are often faced with the problem of getting adequate residence in spending their day and night time. It is essential that there should be certain place whereby people can take shelter, but these homeless people often finds it difficult to have their own residence. As a result, they have to face with lots of struggles in their daily life. Homelessness is a major issue especially in respect to developing and under developed economies whereby people living below poverty line are many (Bhugra, 2007). The volume of poor people has been significantly higher in such countries and as a result, this problem of homelessness is also witnessed at a greater level. However, the main issue with this problem of homelessness is that there are severe kinds of threats to which people are being exposed. As for instance, the most significant is the health issues to which people are exposed from the issue of homelessness. There can be significant level of impact on the wider community from this problem of homelessness (Cloke and Milbourne, 2012).

This report is aimed at analysing the issue of homelessness in detail and this is followed by an assessment of the health issues that are mostly encountered by people from being homeless. A critical assessment of the existing literature is being carried out in order to evaluate the health issues that are faced by people from being homelessness. It is not only the health conditions of people that will be assessed, but there will also be the assessment of the role and impact of homelessness over the wider community at large. Based on the findings from entire analysis, it will be summarised in the conclusion section of this report.

An analysis as performed with respect to the concept of homelessness in the existing literature indicates that this has been an important concept that mainly explains the people without home. An analysis indicates that home is identified as a place whereby people can establish social relations with others by way of entertaining them, establishing direct contact and through establishing association with that person. In this context, homeless is identified as people lacking the adequate ability to secure a place for living in spending their day and night time (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, 2000). A precise definition of homelessness has been provided by Edgar and others, and it is indicated as follows:      

This implies that homelessness is the state of condition whereby people are without home, and they neither have access to shelter nor the elements of home. The reason being people are homeless is mainly because they do not have accessibility to the sources of earning money. The lack of adequate money deprives them off from managing a place whereby they can take shelter. As a result, these people are often found begging at streets and they also spend their night time at streets. This exposes them to severe level of large number of threats including an adverse impact on their health conditions. People spending their nights on street are also exposed to the risk of losing their lives from cases such as accidents. Thus, homeless is identified as a major issue that needs appropriate level of treatment in ensuring that people can maintain their health standards efficiently and also ensures the right living conditions (Ravenhill, 2012). There has been different explanations being provided regarding the concept of homelessness across different countries, but the major concept indicates that homelessness is a state whereby people are deprived from having accessibility to appropriate place whereby they can take shelter.

Health Issues Faced by Homeless People

Overall, the concept of homelessness indicates that it is a condition whereby people do not have their own residence which forces them to stay over streets. This exposes them directly to the external conditions, and as a result, there are higher overall chances that they are faced with adverse health conditions.

As homelessness being identified as a major problem faced by people, its impact is severe over their health conditions. People need certain basic things in their life such as food, clothing, safety and social connection. However, with the absence of stable housing, they often fails to live efficiently and their basic needs get jeopardise as well. Living on the streets causes significant level of exposure to adverse health conditions and it often leads to their death as well. Good food, a shower and clean change of clothing are basic needs that must be fulfilled by a person. However, lack of accessibility to these factors by the homeless often pushes them towards the threat of adverse health conditions. There are a range of health issues to which they are exposed from facing the issue of homelessness. People experiencing homelessness have higher rates of chronic and acute health conditions. They are best classified as having the worst health conditions in particular, and have the chances of increased level of injuries and thereby higher mortality rates (Kryder-Coe, Salamon and Molnar, 1991).

People facing the issue of homelessness have to spend their life on streets and this may affect their mental conditions in an adverse manner. A study has been carried out with 902 homeless individual in Batlimore City in 2005 in the form of survey and the conduct of the study has indicated about the inappropriate health conditions as faced by the people living on streets. The people that are faced with this issue of homelessness and are forced to live on streets are exposed to large range of health related issues. It has been evaluated that these people living on streets are faced with communicable diseases such as colds, flu, and tuberculosis. There has also been higher number of people living on streets are faced with the issue of TB outbreaks. Their inaccessibility to appropriate health conditions in particular has contributed towards such threat of TB (Campbell, 1999).

The people living on streets are not only exposed to these above identified health issues, but there are various other areas of health concerns to which these street living people are exposed. As for instance, the people that live on street are highly exposed to the threats of hypothermia, frost bite and heat stroke, and these particular issues could contribute towards early death of those people. They may also result into permanent injuries to them. Other major health related problems that are evident with the homelessness people are categorised as the issue of skin and foot disorders, eye diseases including the dental problems, and also lice and other hygiene related conditions. All these problems are caused because these homelessness people do not have accessibility to maintain proper level of cleaning of their body. They do not have access to bathing, and since they cannot protect themselves from the environmental threats, the chances of their health condition being adversely affected are higher. People living on streets not only get the appropriate bathing opportunity, but they also lack accessibility to hygienic foods which often affects their health conditions in an adverse manner (Campbell, 1999).

Impact of Homelessness on the Wider Community

Another major study has been conducted in order to assess the impact of homelessness over the health conditions of people and the study was carried out in the form of surveys with 2938 homeless individuals and they were asked about 17 medical conditions. The performance of study has resulted into identification that there are more than 26% of the respondents reported one or more acute infectious conditions, and there are 8% reported one or more of the acute non infectious conditions, and 45% of them have reported one or more chronic health conditions. The impact over the health conditions is identified as negative as there are certain major commonly reported health conditions being faced by the homeless people. These include arthritis/joint problems/rheumatism and problems of high blood pressure, walking problems, handicap limiting mobility, cough or bronchitis, chest infection, cold etc are reported as the most significant health issues encountered by homelessness (Koerner, 1998).

The health issues are not only limited to the above identified issues in respect to homeless people, but there are various other problems related to health that are faced by homeless people. An analysis of the existing literature indicates about such problems related to health condition within homeless people. Some of these health issues as identified especially in respect to homeless people are categorised as hypertension, and other heart related disorders, diabetes, liver disease, and HIV/AIDS. All these occurs at higher rates especially in respect to homeless people as compared to the general public because of their higher level of exposure to unhealthy conditions. The findings of the study indicated that diabetes is extremely difficult to manage especially in respect to homeless people because they are highly reliable on the food giveaways and dumpsters as their primary source of meals. These sources involve higher level of starch and fats and as a result, it is highly difficult for the homeless people to remain away from diabetes related problem (DiPietrom, 2008).

The chances of homeless people exposed to certain kinds of health related issues are significantly higher. It has been evaluated that the homeless people have higher overall exposure to the issues of mental health and alcohol/drug use problems. Their potential to consume alcohol is significantly higher as compared to normal people which in turn have higher level of impact over their health conditions. Mental illness is identified as a leading issue caused from homelessness. The level of stress faced by the homeless people is significantly higher which can easily exacerbate and prolong mental illness and this in turn impedes the recovery and extending homelessness. The health related problems in the form of injuries and other trauma are highly common especially within the homeless people and this occurs more frequently within such homeless people as compared to other people that are housed poor (Austin and Boyd, 2010).

As homeless people do not have their home to sleep, they have to spend their nights on streets which exposes them to risks which are not at all identified in respect to people that are housed properly. An important study by Burt et al (1999) has identified that there has been higher chances of homeless people being assaulted physically and homeless women have higher chances being raped. Issues in the form of violence and trauma are identified especially within homeless and this lead to a two fold increase in the level of depression within them. Because of such higher chances of exposure of homeless people to the health related threats of chronic disease, illness and injuries, there have been higher mortality rates within such homeless persons. This has been a major cause of concern associated especially in respect to the homelessness people, and this necessitates the need for appropriate measures aimed at resolving such issues. The role of governmental aid is crucial especially in respect to such people suffering homelessness so that they can enhance their standard of living and this in turn would protect them from the health related issues to which they are exposed (Witherbee, 2008).


Stress is a major threat to the health performance of individuals and this is identified at a greater level especially within the homeless people. These homeless people are known as having greater level of stress which ultimately results into several other issues to their health performance. As for instance, it has been identified that people suffering from higher level of stress are exposed to other health issues such as the inefficient performance of the immune system, sleep loss is higher especially within homeless people because of additional burden on them in managing their livelihood and no home to rest. The people suffering from the issue of homelessness have four times chances to have asthma problems and they have to spend longer times being hungry. This is mainly because they do not have accessibility to foods for three times a day and all these affect their health conditions at large (DiPietrom, 2008).

Overall, the analysis above has indicated about the health related issues that are identified in respect to homeless people. The analysis resulted into identification that health related issues are significantly higher especially in respect to homeless people as compared to normal people and this is mainly because of adverse conditions faced by them. Such higher level of threat of homelessness necessitates the need to undertake active measures aimed at enhancing the conditions of people and their problems can efficiently be resolved.

The impact of homelessness over the health performance of such individuals is identified as negative. This section of analysis is now focused towards assessing the impact of such homelessness over the wider community performance. An analysis of the existing literature indicates that there has been negative overall impact of homelessness over wider community. There is significant level of negative impacts that could be evident especially over the entire community from the rise in the number of homeless people in the society. This suggests that the rise in the homeless people in the society results into increase in the number of people taking drugs, rise in the people sleeping on streets, increase in the number of beggars in the society and all these portrays a negative image of the entire society and community at large. The increase in the homelessness people suggests that there has been rise in the poverty levels across the economy, and this is a negative indicator of the performance of entire community (Witherbee, 2008).

It is not only the negative impact of homelessness being identified over the wider community in terms of negative image, but there has been adverse overall impact being noted towards the growth and development of the community at large. This is mainly because in order to resolve such issues of homelessness, there has been significant level of resources that have to be spent by the governmental authorities which in turn affects the funding available for the wider community development at large. Homelessness is therefore identified as a crucial issue that impacts the overall growth and development opportunities available to the society and community at large (Allender, Rector and Warner, 2013).

It is not only the consumption of resources that has been evident in respect to homeless people, but these homeless people also do not account for any major contribution to the development of society at large. This signifies that they hardly have jobs or any other source of earning revenue and this in turn implies that they do not contribute towards the governmental revenue at large. There is no such contribution of taxation revenue by them, and as a result, the represent a negative overall burden over the performance of the entire community. This suggests that there is economic impact of homelessness over the society at large. There are various homelessness programs that are required to be carried out by the government and other regulatory authorities aimed at reducing this issue because it has a negative overall impact over the society. These initiatives are mainly in terms of services programs for homeless such as arrangement for shelter, day centres, and homeless medical services and so on. These programs account for significant level of consumption of resources, and their resulting impact is direct over the performance of the society at large (Christine, Peter and Vicki, 2013).

Overall, the analysis as carried out above has indicated that homelessness is identified as a major problem to the performance of community and entire society at large. The issues are not significant especially in terms of the adverse health performance of the homeless people, but there has been negative impact being indicated by such homelessness over the entire image of the society at large.


In this report, a critical assessment has been carried out especially in respect to the concept of homelessness and also the various major impact of such homeless factor over the performance of health conditions and the wider community at large. On the basis of performance of the entire analysis, it has been assessed that homelessness is a condition whereby people does not have their own home to take shelter, and they have to spend their days and nights on streets. Homelessness is identified as a major problem and its impact on the health conditions implies that there has been negative overall impact being noted with regard to the health performance. This is mainly because the analysis above has resulted into the identification of large number of issues health issues suffered by such homeless people. It has been assessed that the major health related issues as identified in respect to homeless are mainly in terms of higher mental problems, increasing alcohol and drug abuse, cold, heart related problems, diabetes and many more. All these issues are significant and there is higher potential that these issues are identified in respect to the homeless people as compared to normal people. Such adverse impact on the health condition of people from homelessness requires appropriate measures to be considered by the authorities so that the problem can be resolved in a positive manner. The analysis also indicated that the impact of homelessness is negative over the performance condition of the community at large. It represents a negative overall meaning of the homelessness to the entire community performance.


Austin, W. and Boyd, M.A. (2010), ‘Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing for Canadian Practice’, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Allender, J., Rector, C. and Warner, K. (2013), ‘Community & Public Health Nursing: Promoting the Public’s Health’, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Bhugra, D. (2007), ‘Homelessness and Mental Health’, Cambridge University Press.

Christine, M., Peter J., and Vicki L. (2013), ‘Learning Through Serving: A Student Guidebook for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Across Academic Disciplines and Cultural Communities’, Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Cloke, P. and Milbourne, P. (2012), ‘International Perspectives on Rural Homelessness’, Routledge.

Campbell, S. (1999), ‘Homelessness: Coordination and Evaluation of Programs Are Essential’, DIANE Publishing.

DiPietrom, B.Y. (2008), ‘Living in the ED: The Impact of Homelessness on the Frequent Use of Emergency Departments in Baltimore City’, ProQuest.

Koerner, J.G. (1998), ‘Caring and Community: Concepts and Models for Service-learning in Nursing’, Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Kryder-Coe, J.H., Salamon, L.M. and Molnar, J.M. (1991), ‘Homeless Children and Youth: A New American Dilemma’, Transaction Publishers.

Ravenhill, M. (2012), ‘The Culture of Homelessness’, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, (2000), ‘Strategies to Combat Homelessness’, UN-HABITAT.

Witherbee, N. (2008), ‘Homeless Prevention: Back in Community Hands’, ProQuest.

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