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Portrait Of American Homeless

Wednesday the department of Housing and Urban Development is releasing the most comprehensive study ever done on homelessness in America.

The report is called "The Forgotten Americans: Homelessness, The People and Programs They Serve."

The census bureau collected the report's data in 1996. About 12,000 homeless providers were interviewed along with 4,200 current and former homeless people.

The data was compiled from 76 metropolitan areas, small cities and rural areas, and then analyzed over a two-year period.

The report validates some assumptions about homeless people.

The report disclosed the percentage of homeless people who suffered childhood trauma.

25 percentsuffered childhood sexual abuse.
33 percent were childhood runaways.
27 percent were raised in a foster home, group home or other institution.

The following illustrates the extent of health problems among homeless people:

46 percentof homeless people have a chronic health problem such as arthritis or cancer.
55 percent of homeless people have no form of health insurance whatsoever.
30 percent have an alcohol problem.
26 percenthave a drug problem.
39 percenthave a mental health problem.

And here is how the report described the homeless population:

68 percent are male.
32 percent are female.
43 percent are black.
38 percentare white.
15 percentare Hispanic.
3 percent are Native American.

Other findings include:

  • Single homeless people have a mean monthly income of $348.
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  • Homeless families have a mean monthly income of $475. This comes to about half the federal poverty level.
  • Forty percent of homeless people went without food one or more days in the previous month.
  • Forty-four percent of homeless people worked at least part time during the montprior to their interview.
  • Fifty-two percent are married.
  • Sixty-five percent of the homeless women and 41 percent of the homeless men have children 17 or younger.
  • Sixty-five percent of the mothers live with at least one minor child, but only 5 percent of homeless fathers live with a minor child.
  • Thirty-three percent of homeless men are military veterans.
  • Thirty-eight percent of homeless people say they have been robbed.
  • Forty-one percent have been victims of theft.
  • Twenty-two percent have been physically assaulted.
  • Seven percent have been sexually assaulted since becoming homeless.
The report found that when homeless people get housing assistance and needed services such as health care, substance abuse treatment, education and job training, more than half ended their homeless status.

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