Trends in the size of the nation's homeless population during the 1980s: A surprising result
AbstractThere are good national estimates of the number of homeless people in shelters in 1984, 1988, and 1990, but only in 1987 is there a reliable estimate of the number of people sleeping in streets. The large increase in the sheltered homeless population between 1984 and 1987-88 could reflect a shift of the homeless from street to shelters rather than a growth in total homelessness. Data from a number of local studies of homeless populations in U.S. cities in the 1980s have made it possible to estimate the ratio of the number of homeless on the street to the number of homeless in shelters and thereby to estimate the size of the national homeless population over this period with some degree of accuracy. Our estimates indicate that the expansion of shelters over the decade did have the effect of reducing the proportion of the homeless living on the street. Still, when we combine the estimated ratios with the estimates of the shelter population in 1984, 1987, 1988, and 1990, we find that homelessness about doubled between 1984 and 1987. We also find that homelessness declined between 1987 and 1990. At its peak, the number of people literally homeless on any given night was less than 400,000. Finally, our results also provide evidence that pure enumerations or censuses of the homeless population lead to undercounts. Both sample censuses and retrospective interview studies provide more complete counts.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1034-94.
Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 3412 Social Science Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706
Phone: (608) 262-6358
Fax: (608) 265-3119
Web page: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/irp/dp/dplist.htm
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Richard B. Freeman & Brian Hall, 1986. "Permanent Homelessness in America?," NBER Working Papers 2013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Barrett Lee, 1989. "Stability and Change in an Urban Homeless Population," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 323-334, May.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.