Community Development, Homelessness, Reports and Publications, Supportive Housing

New Study: People Who Are Homeless Far Too Likely To be Violently Victimized

Violence and Victims

A recent study of violence among people who are homeless found the rate of victimization was roughly 25 times that found in the general population.

In "Exploring the Experiences of Violence Among Individuals Who Are Homeless Using a Consumer-Led Approach”, published this month in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Violence and Victims,  the authors found that victimization was not confined to a particular gender or race, though people older than age 43 and who had been homeless longer than two years were more likely to report being a victim of a violent attack.

The study was conducted by people who are or have been homeless. The survey was developed by members of the National Consumer Advisory Board of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council

Their findings were stark. Women who are homeless were more like to report being raped than their male counterparts. Seventy-eight percent of women who are homeless reported being raped compared to 21 percent of the general population.

Roughly 15 percent of the people interviewed said they were victims of violence based on their housing status.

Post victimization, the people interviewed faced barriers to treatment: 68% could not pay their medical bills, and nearly half said they continued to suffer from the attack.

Some recommendations include:

  • Increase screening and treatment for violence victimization at primary care visits.
  • Offer social support based interventions as a preventative measure for those most at risk of victimization.
  • Conduct outreach to individuals who are chronically homeless using a trauma-informed approach to assess for victimization and refer to treatment.
  • Advocate for adding housing status to the list of groups covered by hate crime legislation.
  • Decriminalize homelessness and train law enforcement to be more sensitive to the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

Access the full report here


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