The urban homeless: estimating composition and size

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Science  13 Mar 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4794, pp. 1336-1341
DOI: 10.1126/science.2950592


Although homelessness has been recognized as a serious and growing urban social problem, scientifically acceptable methods for estimating the composition and size of the homeless population have been lacking. A new research approach to estimating the size and composition of undomiciled urban populations is presented, and its utility is illustrated through a description of the literal homeless of Chicago. The homeless in the Chicago sample are unaffiliated persons living in extreme poverty, with high levels of physical and mental disability. Homelessness is interpreted as a manifestation of extreme poverty among persons without families in housing markets with declining stocks of inexpensive dwelling units suitable for single persons.

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