Homelessness is the condition and social category of people who lack housing, because they cannot afford, or are otherwise unable to maintain, regular, safe, and adequate shelter. The term "homelessness" may also include people whose primary nighttime residence is in a homeless shelter, in an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or in a public or private place not designed for use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. A small number of people choose to be homeless nomads, such as some Romani people (Gypsies) and members of some subcultures. An estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a "chronically homeless" person as "an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.
The term "homelessness" includes the people whose primary daytime residence is in an institution that provides a residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or in a public or private place not designed for use as a regular sleeping conditions for human beings.
Other names for homelessness
The term used to describe homeless people in academic articles and government reports is "homeless people". Popular slang terms for the homeless include: vagrant
, tramp, hobo
(U.S.), transient, bum (U.S.), bagman/bagwoman, street walker, urban outdoorsmen , or the wandering poor. The term '(of) No Fixed Abode' (NFA) is used in legal circumstances. Sometimes the term "houseless" is used to reflect a more accurate condition in some cases.
Contributing causes of homelessness
The major reasons and lack of causes for homelessness as documented by many reports and studies include:
- Lack of affordable housing. An article in the November 2007 issue of Atlantic Monthly reported on a study of the cost of obtaining the "right to build" (i.e. a building permit, red tape, bureaucracy, etc.) in different U.S. cities. The "right to build" cost does not include the cost of the land or the cost of constructing the house. The study was conducted by Harvard economists Edward Glaeser and Kristina Tobio. According to the chart accompanying the article, the cost of obtaining the "right to build" adds approximately $700,000 to the cost of each new house that is built in San Francisco.
- Unavailability of employment opportunities.
- Poverty, caused by many factors including unemployment and underemployment.
- Lack of affordable healthcare.
- Substance abuse and unavailability or lack of needed services.
- Mental illness, such as and unavailability or lack of needed mental health services.
- Domestic violence.
- Prison release and re-entry into society.
- The mass deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill in the Western world from the 1960s and 1970s onwards.
- Natural disaster.
- Forced eviction - In many countries, people lose their homes by government order to make way for newer upscale high rise buildings, roadways, and other governmental needs. The compensation may be minimal, in which case the former occupants cannot find appropriate new housing and become homeless.
- Mortgage foreclosures where mortgage holders see the best solution to a loan default is to take and sell the house to pay off the debt. The popular press made an issue of this in 2008; the real magnitude of the problem is undocumented.
A substantial percentage of the U.S. homeless population are individuals who are chronically unemployed or have difficulty managing their lives effectively due to prolonged and severe drug and/or alcohol abuse. Substance abuse can cause homelessness from behavioral patterns associated with addiction that alienate an addicted individual's family and friends who could otherwise provide support during difficult economic times.
Increased wealth disparity and income inequality causes distortions in the housing market that push rent burdens higher, making housing unaffordable.
Problems faced by homeless people
Homeless people face many problems beyond the lack of a safe and suitable home. They are often faced with many social disadvantages and reduced access to private and public services such as:
- Reduced access to health care.
- Limited access to education.
- Increased risk of suffering from violence and abuse.
- General discrimination from other people.
- Not being seen as suitable for employment.
- Reduced access to banking services to save money.
- Reduced access to communications technology, such as telephones and the internet.
Violent crimes against the homeless
There have been many violent crimes committed against the homeless. A recent study in 2007 found that this number is increasing.
Assistance and resources available to the homeless
Most countries provide a variety of services to assist homeless people. They often provide food, shelter and clothing and may be organised and run by community organisations (often with the help or volunteers) or by government departments. These programs may be supported by government, charities, churches and individual donors.
Many non-profit organizations such as Goodwill Industries
maintain a mission to "provide skill development and work opportunities to people with barriers to employment", though most of these organizations are not primarily geared toward homeless individuals. Many cities also have street newspapers
or magazines: publications designed to provide employment opportunity to homeless people or others in need by street sale.
While some homeless have paying jobs, some must seek other methods to make money. Begging or panhandling is one option, but is becoming increasingly illegal in many cities. Despite the stereotype, not all homeless people panhandle, and not all panhandlers are homeless. Another option is busking: performing tricks, playing music, drawing on the sidewalk, or offering some other form of entertainment in exchange for donations. In cities where plasmapheresis centers still exist, homeless people may generate income through frequent visits to these centers.
Homeless people have been known to commit crimes just to be sent to jail or prison for food and shelter. In police slang, this is called "three hots and a cot" referring to the three hot daily meals and a cot to sleep on given to prisoners. Similarly a homeless person may approach a hospital's emergency department and fake physical or mental illness in order to receive food and shelter.
Invented in 2005, in Seattle, Bumvertising, an informal system of hiring the homeless to advertise by a young entrepreneur, is providing food, money, and bottles of water to sign-holding homeless in the Northwest. Homeless advocates accuse the founder, Ben Rogovy, and the process, of exploiting the poor and take particular offense to the use of the word "bum" which is generally considered pejorative.
In Australia the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) is a joint Commonwealth and state government program which provides funding for more than 1,200 organisations which are aimed to assist homeless people or those in danger of becoming homeless, as well as women and children escaping domestic violence
They provide accommodation such as refuges, shelters and half-way houses, and offer a range of supported services. The Commonwealth has assigned over $800 million between 2000-2005 for the continuation of SAAP.
The current program, governed by the Supported Assistance Act 1994, specifies that "the overall aim of SAAP is to provide transitional supported accommodation and related support services, in order to help people who are homeless to achieve the maximum possible degree of self-reliance and independence. This legislation has been established to help the homeless people of the nation and help rebuild the lives of those in need, the joining of the states also helps enhance the meaning of the legislation and demonstrates the collaboration of the states and their desire to improve the nation as best they can.
is an initiative to help the homeless get re-integrated into society, and out of homeless shelters. It was initiated by the federal government's Interagency Council on Homelessness
. It asks cities to come up with a plan to end chronic homelessness. In this direction, there is the belief that if homeless people are given independent housing to start off with, with some proper social supports, then there would be no need for emergency homeless shelters, which it considers a good outcome. However this is a controversial position.
In Boston, Massachusetts, in September 2007, an outreach to the homeless was initiated in the Boston Common, after some arrests and shootings, and in anticipation of the cold winter ahead. This outreach targets homeless people who would normally spend their sleeping time on the Boston Common, and tries to get them into housing, trying to skip the step of an emergency shelter. Applications for Boston Housing Authority were being handed out and filled out and submitted. This is an attempt to enact by outreach the Housing First initiative, federally mandated. Boston's Mayor, Thomas Menino, was quoted as saying "The solution to homelessness is permanent housing". Still, this is a very controversial strategy, especially if the people are not able to sustain a house with proper community, health, substance counseling, and mental health supportive programs.
Refuges for the homeless
There are many places where a homeless person might seek refuge.
- Outdoors: On the ground or in a sleeping bag, tent, or improvised shelter, such as a large cardboard box, in a park or vacant lot.
- Shantytowns: Ad hoc campsites of improvised shelters and shacks, usually near rail yards, interstates and high transportation veins.
- Derelict structures: abandoned or condemned buildings
- Squatting in an unoccupied house where a homeless person may live without payment and without the owners knowledge or permission.
- Vehicles: cars or trucks are used as a temporary or sometimes long-term living refuge, for example by those recently evicted from a home. Some people live in vans, sport utility vehicles, covered pick-up trucks, station wagons, sedans, or hatchbacks.
- Public places: Parks, bus or train stations, airports, public transportation vehicles (by continual riding where unlimited passes are available), hospital lobbies or waiting areas, college campuses, and 24-hour businesses such as coffee shops. Many public places use security guards or police to prevent people from loitering or sleeping at these locations for a variety of reasons, including image, safety, and comfort.
- Homeless shelters: such as emergency cold-weather shelters opened by churches or community agencies, which may consist of cots in a heated warehouse, or temporary Christmas Shelters.
- Inexpensive Boarding houses: Also called flophouses, they offer cheap, low-quality temporary lodging.
- Residential hotels, where a bed as opposed to an entire room can be rented cheaply in a dorm-like environment.
- Inexpensive motels also offer cheap, low-quality temporary lodging. However, some who can afford housing live in a motel by choice. For example, David and Jean Davidson spent 22 years at a UK Travelodge.
- 24-hour Internet cafes are now used by over 5,000 Japanese "Net cafe refugees". An estimated 75% of Japan's 3,200 all-night internet cafes cater to regular overnight guests, who in some cases have become their main source of income.
- Friends or family: Temporarily sleeping in dwellings of friends or family members ("couch surfing"). Couch surfers may be harder to recognize than street homeless people
- Underground tunnels such as abandoned subway, maintenance, or train tunnels are popular among the permanent homeless. The inhabitants of such refuges are called in some places, like New York City, "Mole People". Natural caves beneath urban centers allow for places where the homeless can congregate. Leaking water pipes, electric wires, and steam pipes allow for some of the essentials of living.
Health care for the homeless
Health care for the homeless is a major public health challenge.
Homeless people are more likely to suffer injuries and medical problems from their lifestyle on the street, which includes poor nutrition, substance abuse, exposure to the severe elements of weather, and a higher exposure to violence (robberies, beatings, and so on). Yet at the same time, they have little access to public medical services or clinics. This is a particular problem in the US where many people lack health insurance: "Each year, millions of people in the United States experience homelessness and are in desperate need of health care services. Most do not have health insurance of any sort, and none have cash to pay for medical care."
Homeless persons often find it difficult to document their date of birth or their address. Because homeless people usually have no place to store possessions, they often lose their belongings, including their identification and other documents, or find them destroyed by police or others. Without a photo ID, homeless persons cannot get a job or access many social services. They can be denied access to even the most basic assistance: clothing closets, food pantries, certain public benefits, and in some cases, emergency shelters.
Obtaining replacement identification is difficult. Without an address, birth certificates cannot be mailed. Fees may be cost-prohibitive for impoverished persons. And some states will not issue birth certificates unless the person has photo identification, creating a Catch-22.
This problem is far less acute in countries which provide free-at-use health care, such as the UK, where hospitals are open-access day and night, and make no charges for treatment. In the US, free-care clinics, especially for the homeless do exist in major cities, but they are usually over-burdened with patients.
The conditions affecting the homeless are somewhat specialized and have opened a new area of medicine tailored to this population. Skin conditions and diseases abound, because homeless people are exposed to extreme cold in the winter and they have little access to bathing facilities. Homeless people also have more severe dental problems than the general population. Specialized medical textbooks have been written to address this for providers.
There are many organizations providing free care to the homeless in countries which do not offer free medical treatment organised by the state, but the services are in great demand given the limited number of medical practitioners. For example, it might take months to get a minimal dental appointment in a free-care clinic. Communicable diseases are of great concern, especially tuberculosis, which spreads more easily in crowded homeless shelters in high density urban settings.
In 1999, Dr. Susan Barrow of the Columbia University Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies reported in a study that the "age-adjusted death rates of homeless men and women were 4 times those of the general US population and 2 to 3 times those of the general population of New York City".
A proposed solution to homelessness
In 2007 urban designer and social theorist Michael E. Arth
proposed a controversial national solution for homelessness that would involve building nearly carfree Pedestrian Villages
in place of what he terms "the current band-aid approach to the problem. A prototype, Tiger Bay Village, was proposed for near Daytona Beach
, FL. He claims that this would be superior for treating the psychological as well as psychiatric needs of both temporarily and permanently homeless adults, and would cost less than the current approach. It would also provide a lower cost alternative to jail, and provide a half-way station for those getting out of prison. Work opportunities, including construction and maintenance of the villages, as well as the creation of work force agencies would help make the villages financially and socially viable.
International law and homelessness
Since the publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(Charter of the United Nations -- UN) in 1948, the public perception has been increasingly changing to a focus on the human right
of housing, travel and migration as a part of individual self-determination rather than the human condition.
The Declaration, an international law reinforcement of the Nuremberg Trial Judgements
, upholds the rights of one nation to intervene in the affairs of another if said nation is abusing its citizens, and rose out of a 1939-1945 World War II Atlantic environment of extreme split between "haves" and "have nots." The modern study of homeless phenomena is most frequently seen in this historical context.
Homelessness in specific countries
Statistics for developed countries
In 2005, an estimated 100 million people worldwide were homeless.
The following statistics indicate the approximate average number of homeless people at any one time. Each country has a different approach to counting homeless people, and estimates of homelessness made by different organizations vary wildly, so comparisons should be made with caution.
- European Union: 3,000,000 (UN-HABITAT 2004)
- United Kingdom: 10,459 rough sleepers, 98,750 households in temporary accommodation (Department for Communities and Local Government 2005)
- Canada: 150,000 (National Homelessness Initiative - Government of Canada)
- Australia: In total, 99,900 people were homeless in 2001
- 14,200 sleeping rough (In improvised dwellings or tents, or in streets, parks, cars or derelict buildings). 14,300 in emergency or transitional housing. 48,600 were defined as homeless because they were staying with another household and had no usual residence. Finally, 22,900 people living in boarding houses were included in the homeless count. (ABS: 2001 Census)
- United States: According to HUD's July 2008 3rd Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, in a single night in January 2007, single point analysis reported to HUD showed there were 671,888 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide in the United States.. Also, HUD reported the number of chronically homeless people (those with repeated episodes or who have been homeless for long periods, 2007 data) as 123,833. 82% of the homeless are not chronically homeless, and 18% are (6% Chronically Homeless Sheltered, 12% Chronically Homeless Unsheltered). Their Estimate of Sheltered Homeless Persons during a One-Year Period, October 2006 to September 2007, that about 1,589,000 persons used an emergency shelter and/or transitional housing during the 12-month period, which is about 1 in every 200 persons in the United States was in a homeless facility in that time period. Individuals accounted for 1,115,054 or 70.2% and families numbered 473,541 or 29.8%. The number of persons in sheltered households with Children was about 130,968.
- Japan: 20,000-100,000 (some figures put it at 200,000-400,000) Reports show that homelessness is on the rise in Japan since the mid-1990s.
Developing and undeveloped countries
The number of homeless people worldwide has grown steadily in recent years. In some Third World
nations such as India, Nigeria
, and South Africa
, homelessness is rampant, with millions of children living and working on the streets. Homelessness has become a problem in the countries of China, Thailand
, and the Philippines
despite their growing prosperity, mainly due to migrant workers who have trouble finding permanent homes and to rising income inequality between social classes.
For people in Russia, especially the youth, alcoholism and substance abuse is a major cause and reason for becoming and continuing to be homeless.
History of homelessness
In the sixteenth century in England, the state first tried to give housing to vagrants instead of punishing them, by introducing bridewells to take vagrants and train them for a profession. In the eighteenth century, these were replaced by workhouses but these were intended to discourage too much reliance on state help. These were later replaced by dormitory housing ("spikes") provided by local boroughs, and these were researched by the writer George Orwell. By the 1930s in England, there were 30,000 people living in these facilities. In the 1960s, the nature and growing problem of homelessness changed for the worse in England, with public concern growing. The number of people living "rough" in the streets had increased dramatically. However, beginning with the Conservative administration's Rough Sleeper Initiative, the number of people sleeping rough in London fell dramatically. This initiative was supported further by the incoming Labour administration from 1997 onwards with the publication of the 'Coming in from the Cold' strategy published by the Rough Sleepers Unit, which proposed and delivered a massive increase in the number of hostel bed spaces in the capital and an increase in funding for street outreach teams, who work with rough sleepers to enable them to access services.
In general, in most countries, many towns and cities had an area which contained the poor, transients, and afflicted, such as a "skid row". In New York City, for example, there was an area known as "the Bowery", traditionally, where alcoholics were to be found sleeping on the streets, bottle in hand. This resulted in rescue missions, such as the oldest homeless shelter in New York City, The Bowery Mission, founded in 1879 by the Rev. and Mrs. A.G. Ruliffson.
In smaller towns, there were hobos, who temporarily lived near train tracks and hopped onto trains to various destinations. Especially following the American Civil War, a large number of homeless men formed part of a counterculture known as "hobohemia" all over America.
Although not specifically about the homeless, Jacob Riis wrote about, documented, and photographed the poor and destitute in New York City tenements in the late 1800s. He wrote a ground-breaking book including such material in How the Other Half Lives in 1890, which inspired Jack London's The People of the Abyss (1903).
This raised public awareness, causing some changes in building codes and some social conditions.
However, modern homelessness as we know it, started as a result of the economic stresses in society, reduction in the availability of affordable housing, such as single room occupancies (SROs), for poorer people. In the United States, in the 1970s, the deinstitutionalisation of patients from state psychiatric hospitals was a precipitating factor which seeded the homeless population, especially in urban areas such as New York City.
The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 was a pre-disposing factor in setting the stage for homelessness in the United States. Long term psychiatric patients were released from state hospitals into SROs and supposed to be sent to community mental health centers for treatment and follow-up. It never quite worked out properly, the community mental health centers mostly did not materialize, and this population largely was found living in the streets soon thereafter with no sustainable support system.
Also, as real estate prices and neighborhood pressure increased to move these people out of their areas, the SROs diminished in number, putting most of their residents in the streets.
Other populations were mixed in later, such as people losing their homes for economic reasons, and those with addictions (although alcoholic hobos had been visible as homeless people since the 1890s, and those stereotypes fuelled public perceptions of homeless people in general), the elderly, and others.
Many places where people were once allowed freely to loiter, or purposefully be present, such as churches, public libraries and public atriums, became stricter as the homeless population grew larger and congregated in these places more than ever. As a result, many churches closed their doors when services were not being held, libraries enforced a "no eyes shut" and sometimes a dress policy, and most places hired private security guards to carry out these policies, creating a social tension. Many public toilets were closed.
This banished the homeless population to sidewalks, parks, under bridges, and the like. They also lived in the subway and railroad tunnels in New York City. They seemingly became socially invisible, which was the intention of many of the enforcement policies.
The homeless shelters, which were generally night shelters, made the homeless leave in the morning to whatever they could manage and return in the evening when the beds in the shelters opened up again for sleeping. There were some daytime shelters where the homeless could go, instead of being stranded on the streets, and they could be helped, get counseling, avail themselves of resources, meals, and otherwise spend their day until returning to their overnight sleeping arrangements. An example of such a day center shelter model is Saint Francis House in Boston, Massachusetts, founded in the early 1980s, which opens for the homeless all year long during the daytime hours and was originally based on the settlement house model.
There was also the reality of the "bag" people, the shopping cart people, and the soda can collectors (known as binners or dumpster divers) who sort through garbage to find items to sell, trade and eat. These people carried around all their possessions with them all the time since they had no place to store them. If they had no access to or capability to get to a shelter and possible bathing, or access to toilets and laundry facilities, their hygiene was lacking. This again created social tensions in public places.
These conditions created an upsurge in tuberculosis and other diseases in urban areas.
In 1979, a New York City lawyer, Robert Hayes, brought a class action suit before the courts, Callahan v. Carey, against the City and State, arguing for a person's state constitutional "right to shelter". It was settled as a consent decree in August 1981. The City and State agreed to provide board and shelter to all homeless men who met the need standard for welfare or who were homeless by certain other standards. By 1983 this right was extended to homeless women.
By the mid-1980s, there was also a dramatic increase in family homelessness. Tied into this was an increasing number of impoverished and runaway children, teenagers, and young adults, which created a new sub-stratum of the homeless population (street children or street youth).
Also, in the 1980s, in the United States, some federal legislation was introduced for the homeless as a result of the work of Congressman Stewart B. McKinney. In 1987, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was enacted.
Several organisations in some cities, such as New York and Boston, tried to be inventive about help to the swelling number of homeless people. In New York City, for example, in 1989, the first street newspaper was created called "Street News" which put some homeless to work, some writing, producing, and mostly selling the paper on streets and trains. It was written pro bono by a combination of homeless, celebrities, and established writers. In 1991, in England, a street newspaper, following on the New York model was established, called The Big Issue and was published weekly. Its circulation grew to 300,000. Chicago has StreetWise which has the largest circulation of its kind in the United States, thirty thousand. Boston has a Spare Change newspaper built on the same model as the others: homeless helping themselves. Seattle has Real Change, a $1 newsletter that directly benefits the homeless and also reports on economic issues in the area. More recently, Street Sense, in Washington, D.C. has gained a lot of popularity and helped many make the move out of homelessness. Students in Baltimore, M.D. have opened a satellite office for that street paper as well (www.streetsense.org). One program that has found success in New York City is Pathways to Housing, which adopts the Housing first philosophy in providing housing for those homeless with mental health issues.
In 2002, research showed that children and families were the largest growing segment of the homeless in America, and this has presented new challenges, especially in services, to agencies. Back in the 1990s, a teenager from New York, Liz Murray, was homeless at fifteen years old, and overcame that and went on to study at Harvard University. Her story was made into an Emmy-winning film in 2003, Homeless to Harvard.
Some trends involving the plight of the homeless have provoked some thought, reflection and debate. One such phenomenon is paid physical advertising, colloquially known as "sandwich board men and another specific type as "Bumvertising". Another trend is the side effect of unpaid free advertising of companies and organisations on shirts, clothing and bags, to be worn by the homeless and poor, given out and donated by companies to homeless shelters and charitable organisations for otherwise altruistic purposes. These trends are reminiscent of the "sandwich board signs" carried by poor people in the time of Charles Dickens in the Victorian 1800s in England and later during the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s.
In the USA, the government asked many major cities to come up with a ten year plan to end homelessness. One of the results of this was a "Housing first" solution, rather than to have a homeless person remain in an emergency homeless shelter it was thought to be better to quickly get the person permanent housing of some sort and the necessary support services to sustain a new home. But there are many complications of this kind of program and these must be dealt with to make such an initiative work successfully in the middle to long term.
It has been reported that some formerly homeless people, when they finally were able to get their housing and life straightened out and return to a normal lifestyle, felt moved and grateful enough to have donated money and volunteer service to the organizations which helped them when they were homeless.
Tracking the homeless
In the USA, the federal government's HUD agency has required federally funded organizations to use a computer tracking system for the homeless and their statistics, called HMIS (Homeless Management Information System). There has been some opposition to this kind of tracking by privacy advocacy groups, such as EPIC
Voluntary homelessness in nomadic cultures
A small number of homeless people choose to be homeless, living as nomads. Nomadism has been a way of life in many cultures for thousands of years. This cultural practice is due to seasonal availability of plants and animals or to facilitate trade. However the term homelessness is different from nomadism/rootlessness in that nomads and Gypsy travellers in caravans have "planned mobility" rather than forced mobility.
In Britain, most nomadic people are Roma (or Gypsy) people, Irish travellers, Kalé from North Wales, and Scottish travellers. Many of these people continue to maintain a semi-nomadic lifestyle and live in caravans; however, others have chosen to settle more permanently in houses.Some European countries have developed policies that acknowledge the unique nomadic (or "travelling") life of Gypsy people; Similar work has also been done by the Australian government, regarding the subgroup of Aborigine people who are nomadic. In large Japanese cities such as Tokyo, the "many manifestations of urban nomadism" include day labourers and subculture groups.
Linguistic titles for the homeless around the world
In different languages, the term for homelessness reveals the cultural and societal perception and classification of a homeless person:
- Afrikaans: "haweloos" (homeless)
- Albanian: "i pastrehë" (homeless)
- Arabic: مشرد, بلا مأوى (homeless, beggar)
- Aragones: sin teito ; sin fogar (without a roof; without a home)
- Basque: "kale gorrian bizi den(a)" ; "kalegorritar" (street dweller, homeless)
- Chinese: 无家的 ; 无家可归的 (Non-family; Homeless)
- Croatian: "beskućnik" (homeless),
- Czech: "bezdomovec" (homeless),
- Danish: "hjemløs" (homeless),
- Dutch: "zwerver" (wanderer), "dakloze" (roofless)
- English (Britain): "rough sleeper" (person who sleeps "in the rough" i.e. outdoors)
- Finnish: "kodittomat" (homeless), hemlösa
- French: France "sans domicile fixe" (SDF, without a fixed domicile), Quebec "sans-abri" (without shelter)
- German: "obdachlos" (without a shelter)
- Greek: "άστεγος" (astegos) (without a roof/home)
- Hebrew: "Chasraei Biyet" (Lacking a house)
- Hindi: "बेघर" Be-ghar (Without home)
- Hungarian: "Hajléktalan" (Without house)
- Icelandic: heimilislaus ; útigangsmaður
- Italian: "senzatetto" (without a roof)
- Japan : "ホームレス": "Hōmuresu" (a phonetical approximation of 'homeless'), 乞食 "kojiki" (a beggar), 浮浪者 "furōsha" (a transient) or 不労者 "furōsha" ('one-that-does-not-work'), ルンペン "rumpen" (derived from German word Lumpenproletariat)
- Korean: "노숙자" (person who sleeps outside), "거지" (extremely poor)
- Latvia: "bezpajumtnieks" (without a shelter) or "bomzis" (slang loanword from Russian "бомж")
- Lithuania: "Benamis"(without a shelter) or "bomžas" (slang loanword from Russian "бомж" kuciukst)
- Norwegian: "uteligger" (sleeping outside)
- Persian: "بی خانمان" Bi-khaneman (without home)
- Polish, Russian, Slovene: "bezdomny", "бездомный", or in more frequent use, "бомж", standing for without fixed place of living (без определенного места жительства), "brezdomec" respectively (without a house)
- Portuguese: "mendigo", "desabrigado" or "sem-abrigo" (without a shelter) or "sem-tecto" (without a roof), or "sem-teto"
- Romanian: "fara adapost" (without a shelter)
- Spanish: "persona sin hogar" (person without a home), "pordiosero" (person who begs saying "Por Dios" ("For God's sake")), "sin techo" or "sintecho" (person without roof above), "desamparado" (helpless, unprotected, abandoned, deserted), "vagabundo" (vagabond, vagrant), indigente (indigent).
- Swedish: "uteliggare" (someone lying outside), "hemlös" (homeless), "lodis"/"lodare", "luffare" (hobo).
- Turkish: "evsiz" (homeless, rootless)
- Urdu: "بے گھر" Be-ghar (Without home)
- Vietnamese: "không cửa không nhà, vô gia cư" (dispossessed, roofless, stateless, homeless)
Homelessness in the popular media
- 1800s. "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" - traditional folk song
- 1908. "If It's Good Enough for Washington It's Good Enough For Me", music by Percy Wenrich, words by Ren Shields - sleeping on bench in public square with statue of George Washington.
- 1962. "Man on the Street", by Bob Dylan, officially released on 1991's Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series.
- 1963. "Only a Hobo", by Bob Dylan, officially released on 1991's Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series.
- 1968. "I Am a Lonesome Hobo", by Bob Dylan, from his 8th studio recording John Wesley Harding. A humble warning from a homeless man to those who are better off.
- 1969. "Highway Chile", by Jimi Hendrix Experience. The song is about a homeless man that Jimi met when he was on tour.
- 1972. "Aqualung", by Jethro Tull
- 1977. "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover" in the musical Annie
- 1983. "Brothers Under the Bridges" by Bruce Springsteen, later released on Tracks compilation album
- 1989. "Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins, which was included on his album ...But Seriously became the last number 1 of the 1980s.
- 1991. "Something in the Way", music by Nirvana, Written by Kurt Cobain when he was young and homeless and sleeping under a bridge.
- 1991. "Even Flow", music by Pearl Jam, lyrics written by Eddie Vedder telling a story about a homeless man.
- 1993. "Somebody's Baby" by Pat Benatar.
- 1996. "Low Man's Lyric" by Metallica.
- 1998. "What it's like" by Everlast.
- 2004. "Nobody's Home" by Avril Lavigne.
- 2007. "There Is No Good Reason" by Natalie Merchant on the compilation album, Give US Your Poor. The song was written by a 15 year old homeless girl, Nichole, telling about her ordeals and struggles.
- 1933. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell.
- 1998. The homeless in Paris: a representative sample survey of users of services for the homeless, in Dragana Avramov, ed, Coping with homelessness : issues to be tackled and best practices in Europe, Ashgate Publishing, by Maryse Marpsat and Jean-Marie Firdion.
- 2005. Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America by Michelle Kennedy
- 2005. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. ISBN 0743247531
- 2005. Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski.
- 1978. The Agony of Jimmy Quinlan is a National Film Board documentary about homeless alcoholics in Montreal (video online in full).
- 1984. Streetwise -- follows homeless Seattle youth.
- 1993. -- chronicles the lives of six articulate, educated, "hidden homeless" women as they struggle from day to day. Narrated by Jodie Foster.
- 1997. -- about the Canadian homeless in Montreal. New York Times Review,
- 2000. Dark Days -- A film following the lives of homeless adults living in the Amtrak tunnels in New York.
- 2001. Children Underground -- Following the lives of homeless children in Bucharest, Romania.
- 2003. -- about the homeless in São Paulo, Brazil. Its English title is "On the Fringes of São Paulo: Homeless".
- 2005. The Children of Leningradsky -- About homeless children in Moscow.
- 2005. Reversal of Fortune -- A homeless person is given $100,000 and is free to do whatever he wishes with the money.
- 2006. Homeless -- About Homeless people and homelessness in England.
- 2007. Easy Street -- about the homeless in St. Petersburg, Florida.
- 2008. The Oasis -- an observational documentary about homeless youths in Sydney, Australia, filmed over two years.
- 2008. Carts of Darkness is a documentary by Murray Siple about extreme shopping cart racing by homeless men, and perceptions of disability.
- 2008. - "Centered on the troubled friendship between Robert and Harvey, the film exposes the unique hardships and common humanity of people who live among us but are virtually unknown.
TV and radio documentaries
TV entertainment and comedy shows
Other itinerant or homeless people or terms for this condition
Socioeconomic issues or aspects of homeless life
Miscellaneous homelessness-related articles
- Baumohl, Jim (editor) (1996). Homelessness in America. Phoenix: Oryx Press.
- BBC News, "Warning over homelessness figures: Government claims that homelessness numbers have fallen by a fifth since last year should be taken with a health warning, says housing charity Shelter", Monday, 13 June 2005.
- BBC Radio 4, "No Home, a season of television and radio programmes that introduce the new homeless.", 2006.
- Beard, Rick, "On Being Homeless: Historical Perspectives", New York, Museum of the City of New York, 1987.
- Booth, Brenda M., Sullivan, J. Greer, Koegel, Paul, Burnam, M. Audrey, "Vulnerability Factors for Homelessness Associated with Substance Dependence in a Community Sample of Homeless Adults", RAND Research Report. Originally published in: American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, v. 28, no. 3, 2002, pp. 429-452.
- Brickner, Philip, Under the Safety Net: The Health and Social Welfare of the Homeless in the United States, W. W. Norton & Company, 1990. ISBN 0393028852
- Burt, Martha R. (1992). Over the Edge: The Growth of Homelessness in the 1980s. Russell Sage.
- Burt, Martha R., et al., "Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve: Findings of the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients", Urban Institute, December 07, 1999
- Burt, Martha R., "Evaluation of LA's HOPE: Ending Chronic Homelessness through Employment and Housing Final Report", Urban Institute, Washington DC, March 18, 2008
- Burt, Martha R., "Hilton Foundation Project to End Homelessness for People with Mental Illness in Los Angeles: Changes in Homelessness, Supportive Housing, and Tenant Characteristics Since 2005", Urban Institute, prepared for the Corporation for Supportive Housing Report, April 2008.
- Charlton, Emma "France to create 'legal right' to housing". Agence France-Presse, .
- A History of Modern Homelessness in New York City. Coalition for the Homeless (New York). .
- Cooper, Yvette, MP, "Effective Homelessness Prevention", April 12, 2006.
- Crimaldi, Laura "Homeless getting new lease on life". Boston Herald, .
- Culhane, Dennis , "Responding to Homelessness: Policies and Politics", 2001.
- deMause, Neil "Out of the Shelter, Into the Fire: New city program for homeless: Keep your job or keep your apartment". The Village Voice, .
- DePastino, Todd (2003). Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America.
- Duffy, Gary "Brazil's homeless and landless unite". BBC News, .
- Firdion, Jean-Marie; Marpsat, Maryse "A Research Program on Homelessness in France". Journal of Social Issues 63 (3):
- Friedman, Donna Haig, et al. (June 2007). "Preventing Homelessness and Promoting Housing Stability : A Comparative Analysis", The Boston Foundation and UMASS/Boston Center for Social Policy.
- Friedman, Donna Haig (2003). "Surviving Against the Odds: Families’ Journeys off Welfare and out of Homelessness". Cityscape 6 (2):
- Urban Homelessness & Public Policy Solutions: A One-Day Conference. Institute for Governmental Studies, Berkeley. .
- Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve - Highlights Report. Interagency Council on the Homeless (USA). (1997). .
- Jencks, Christopher (1994). The Homeless. Harvard University Press.
- Jordan, Katy, "Sharp rise in state’s homeless", Boston Herald, Wednesday, July 30, 2008
- Kahn, Ric "Buried in Obscurity". Boston Globe, .
- Kusmer, Kenneth L. (2003). Down and Out, On the Road: The Homeless in American History. Oxford University Press.
- Morton, Margaret (1995). The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless Of New York City. Yale University Press.
- O'Brien, Matthew(author) and Mollohan, Danny (photographer) (2007). Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas. Huntington Press.
- O'Flaherty, Brendan (1996). Making Room: The Economics of Homelessness. Harvard University Press.
- Paige, Connie, Homelessness hits record high: Advocates expect numbers to grow amid economic downturn and ask for state aid, The Boston Globe, October 6, 2008
- Riis, Jacob (1890). How the Other Half Lives.
- Rossi, Peter H. (1990). Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness. University Of Chicago Press.
- Schutt, Russell K., Ph.D., Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston.
- Schutt, Russell K., et al., "Boston's Homeless, 1986-87: Change and Continuity", 1987.
- Schutt, Russell K., Working with the Homeless: the Backgrounds, Activities and Beliefs of Shelter Staff, 1988.
- Schutt, Russell, K., "Homeless Adults in Boston in 1990: A Two-Shelter Profile", 1990.
- Schutt, Russell K., Garrett, Gerald R., "Responding to the Homeless: Policy and Practice", Topics in Social Psychiatry, 1992. ISBN 0-306-44076-8
- Schutt, Russell K., Byrne, Francine, et al., "City of Boston Homeless Services: Employment & Training for Homeless Persons", 1995.
- Schutt, Russell K., Feldman, James, et al., "Homeless Persons’ Residential Preferences and Needs: A Pilot Survey of Persons with Severe Mental Illness in Boston Mental Health and Generic Shelters", 2004.
- Sommer, Heidi Homelessness in Urban America: a Review of the Literature. (2001). .
- A Brief History of Homelessness. St. Mungo's organisation (UK). .
- Swarms, Rachel L., "Number of homeless reported down 30%: Officials say 'housing first' strategy a success", Boston Globe, New York Times News Service, July 30, 2008
- Sweeney, Richard (1992). Out of Place: Homelessness in America. HarperCollins College Publishers.
- Vissing, Yvonne Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Homeless Children and Families in Small-Town America. (1996). .
- Vissing, Yvonne The $ubtle War Against Children. Fellowship. .
- Vladeck, Bruce, R.; The Committee on Health Care for Homeless People, Institute of Medicine (1988). Homelessness, Health, and Human needs. National Academies Press.
- Toth, Jennifer (1993). The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City.
- Hunger and Homelessness Survery. United States Conference of Mayors. (2005). .
- United States Department of Health and Human Services, "Ending Chronic Homelessness: Strategies for Action", Report from the Secretary's Work Group on Ending Chronic Homelessness, March 2003.
- Yoon, Il-Seong, "A Study on the Homeless in South Korea", Pusan National University; International Critical Geography Group Conference, Taegu, Korea, 2000.
- Arumi, Ana Maria, Yarrow, Andrew L., "Compassion, Concern, and Conflicted Feelings: New Yorkers on Homelessness and Housing", Public Agenda Foundation, February 2007
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Housing and Community Development, Homelessness Commission, Commission to End Homelessness, "Report of the Special Commission Relative to Ending Homelessness in The Commonwealth", Final Report, December 2007
- Crosette, Barbara, "Homeless and Hungry Youths of India", The New York Times, December 23, 1990.
- Friedman, Donna H., et al., "Preventing Homelessness and Promoting Housing Stability: A Comparative Analysis", The Boston Foundation, June 2007.
- Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, Springer Verlag and Psycke-Logos Press.
- Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, "Down & Out: A Manual on Basic Rights and Benefits for Homeless People", 2005-2006 edition, first published in 1984, 15 Bubier Street, Lynn, Massachusetts.
- Min, Eungjun, (editor), "Reading the Homeless: The Media's Image of Homeless Culture", Praeger Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0275959503
- Nieto G., Gittelman M., Abad A. (2008). "Homeless Mentally Ill Persons: A bibliography review", International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 12(2)
- Scanlon, John, "Homelessness: Describing the Symptoms, Prescribing a Cure", Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder #729, October 2, 1989
- University of Michigan Libraries, Selected Bibliography of Homelessness Resources
- "Looking for Sanctuary: Staying on Publicly Owned Lands as a Response to Homelessness by Peggy Ann Dee Southard, a dissertation presented to the Department of Sociology and the Graduate School of the University of Oregon in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
- Dorie Apollonio and Ruth E. Malone, "Marketing to the marginalised: tobacco industry targeting of the homeless and mentally ill" (2005). Tobacco Control. 14 (6), pp. 409-415
- Homeless Statistics for Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States.
- Law Librarian's questions and answers about legal information for the homeless.
- Salvation Army International
- Scottish Borders Council Homelessness Services
- Homeless Man Speaks, an on-the-street perspective
- Les Enfants de Don Quichotte, French NGO which organized illegal camping-sites on the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris end of December 2006-January 2007 in order to enforce the right to lodging (Droit au logement).
- Toxic Playground: Growing Up In Skid Row
- Down and Out in Kyushu, interview with a young Japanese homeless man
- National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day (USA) - Information on National Homeless Person's Memorial Day, December 21
- PBS, "Home at Last?, NOW series program, first aired on February 2, 2007. The topic was what will most help homeless people reenter the fabric of society.