It’s National Public Health Week (April 3-9, 2017) and like our partners and providers around the country, we are helping to raise awareness of how homelessness impacts public health. This year’s annual theme, coordinated by the American Public Health Association, is “Healthiest Nation 2030.” This theme focuses on how we can work together to create the healthiest nation in one generation.

The health implications of homelessness are so clear to those of us working tirelessly to help vulnerable individuals achieve housing and income stability, and research supports what we see in the field:

  • Individuals experiencing homelessness have high rates of chronic mental and physical health conditions, co-occurring disorders, and barriers to care, such as inability to access care when needed or to comply with prescribed medications[1]
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness also have an elevated risk of mortality, from 1.5- to 11.5- times greater, relative to the general population[2]
  • Without stable housing it can be difficult or impossible to manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, Hepatitis C, or hypertension, which are more prevalent in those experiencing homelessness than those who are stably housed[3]

However, the great work providers are doing by using the SOAR model to increase access to income and health insurance has a dramatic impact in our efforts to end homelessness and create a healthier nation by 2030.

I encourage you to use National Public Health Week as a catalyst for taking one extra step towards ending homelessness in your community. No matter how big or small, if we all take a single step together, we’ll get there!

We’d love to hear how you are raising awareness during this National Public Health Week!


[1] Kushel MB, Vittinghoff E, Haas JS. Factors Associated With the Health Care Utilization of Homeless Persons. JAMA. 2001;285(2):200-206. doi:10.1001/jama.285.2.200.

[2]Gambatese M, Marder D, Begier E, et al. Programmatic Impact of 5 Years of Mortality Surveillance of New York City Homeless Populations. American Journal of Public Health. 2013;103(S2):S193-S198. doi:10.2105/ajph.2012.301196.

[3] Bharel M, Lin W-C, Zhang J, O’Connell E, Taube R, Clark RE. Health Care Utilization Patterns of Homeless Individuals in Boston: Preparing for Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. American Journal of Public Health. 2013;103(S2):S311-S317. doi:10.2105/ajph.2013.301421.