Homelessness has become one of the most significant and challenging social problems facing communities across the United States. The lack of housing goes hand-in-hand with a myriad of severe health conditions. Many homeless individuals struggle with at least one substance abuse problem, at least one chronic physical condition, and a psychiatric illness. Each condition is often preventable and manageable…on its own. But, in combination with other medical and behavioral health issues and with inconsistent treatment, such health problems become compounded — and all too often, fatal.
With so much at stake, communities have an important incentive to treat homelessness to the best capability given the available resources. While the perfect solution to homelessness has yet to be discovered, communities are urgently looking for ways to address the homeless public health crisis. Homelessness is expensive to treat but the costs of not treating homelessness are higher, in both financial expenditure and population health outcomes.