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Structural Determinants of Homelessness in the United States

Marta Elliott, Lauren J. Krivo
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/800641 113-131 First published online: 1 February 1991


To correct previous researchers' almost exclusive emphasis on describing the size and personal characteristics of homeless individuals, this article reports on an empirical evaluation of the influence of several structural conditions on rates of homelessness in U.S. metropolitan areas. It is hypothesized that unavailability of low-cost housing,high poverty, poor economic conditions, concentrations of minorities and female-headed families, and insufficient mental health care for the indigent are determinants of high levels of homelessness. The results of a multivariate analysis show that the availability of low income housing and of mental health care are the strongest predictors. Relatively modest investments in improving availability of these services would provide considerable payoff in reducing homelessness.

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