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Am J Public Health. 2000 Feb;90(2):258-63.

Risk factors for homelessness among indigent urban adults with no history of psychotic illness: a case-control study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.



This study identified risk factors for homelessness among indigent urban adults without dependent children and with no history of psychotic illness.


We conducted a matched case-control study, stratified by sex, of 200 newly homeless men and women and 200 indigent men and women with no history of homelessness. Newly homeless case subjects were recruited from shelter assessment centers in New York City. Never-homeless control subjects, selected from public assistance centers, were single adults applying for home relief. Control subjects were matched with case subjects according to ethnicity, age, and sex. Trained interviewers employed standardized research instruments to probe 3 domains of risk factors: symptom severity and substance use disorder, family support and functioning, and prior use of services.


Significant interaction effects by sex were present for symptom severity, heroin use disorder, and prior service use. Greater numbers of the homeless of both sexes lacked a high school diploma and had less income from all sources, including from their families, than of the never homeless.


Newly homeless men and women with no history of psychotic illness differed from their never-homeless counterparts in the 3 domains investigated, but socioeconomic factors were also important.

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