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Housing the homeless and improving health

February 9, 2012

Being homeless has an impact on a person’s health. People who are homeless or marginally housed have less access to health care and poorer health outcomes than those who live in stable housing.

A recent systematic review rounds up new research on interventions that are aiming to reduce homelessness and improve health. Donna Fitzpatrick-Lewis and others reviewed a number of studies and it was found that, among other things, providing housing for homeless or marginally housed populations can lead to:

  • increased housing stability;
  • small, but significant decreases in substance/alcohol use;
  • longer periods of abstinence;
  • a reduction in the use of emergency departments and psychiatric inpatient services; and
  • an improved quality of life.

Their review can also help inform the efforts of public health programs. For example, it’s recommended that a rent subsidy be made available to homeless people with mental illness.

To access a summary of additional findings and recommendations, please visit www.health-evidence.ca.

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