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long-term effects

Posted14.05.24

Long-term effects of homelessness

The long-term effects of homelessness can be very serious for those impacted. Homelessness can cause problems affecting everything from physical and mental wellbeing to future employability. Here we will outline some of the most important long-term effects of homelessness.

People experiencing homelessness are far more likely to suffer health issues than those who are not homeless. The mean age at death of homeless people is 46 for men and 43 for women. This compares to 76 for men and 81 for women in the general population. Additionally, people impacted by homelessness are more than twice as likely to suffer from health conditions. These could include heart problems, asthma and strokes. It is unlawful to refuse someone access to a GP due to having no address. However, this is still a barrier to accessing healthcare for some people.

Homelessness not only worsens pre-existing mental health conditions but also significantly increases the likelihood of individuals developing them. Those impacted by homelessness face heightened risks of suffering from severe mental health issues like schizophrenia, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. Moreover, the long-term effects of homelessness contribute to a disproportionately higher suicide rate compared to the general population.

Homelessness also comes with a heightened risk of becoming a victim of violence or exploitation. Young people are particularly vulnerable to this. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to experience violence than the general population.  The LGBTQIA+ community are at an even higher risk. Experiencing violence whilst homeless can have serious effects on both physical and mental wellbeing. Increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation as well as any physical harm suffered. Due to a lack of safety, security and support networks, people experiencing homelessness are also vulnerable to exploitation. They may engage in risky behaviour to access shelter or may be groomed or forced into illegal activities by criminals.

Drug and alcohol misuse can be another long-term effect of homelessness. Around a quarter of homeless people report problematic drug or alcohol use. Two thirds of people cite drug or alcohol misuse as a reason for first becoming homeless. They often encounter social isolation and face a higher risk to their personal safety. Health and social care providers, as well as drug services, often fail to adequately cater to people experiencing homelessness, particularly rough sleepers, exacerbating the issues they face.

Homelessness can have a detrimental effect on education and future employment. Being homeless as a child can affect educational attainment. Whilst disruption in schooling can cause a barrier to employment in later life. Recent research by Shelter shows 85% of teachers interviewed, reported issues such as children missing or being late to school, coming to school hungry, tired, or wearing unwashed clothing. These factors all contribute to poor educational outcomes and difficulties in later life.

The long-term effects of homelessness highlight how severe an issue it is and how important early intervention is. Find out how you can help here.

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