Impact of homelessness

Not having a home can make it harder for individuals to find a job, stay healthy and maintain relationships.

Experience of homeless people compared to general population

On individuals

With people often experiencing feelings of isolation, homelessness can also increase your chances of taking drugs or experiencing physical or mental health problems.

Evidence suggests that the longer someone is in this position the more difficult it can become to get back on your feet.

As someone's problems become more complex, anti-social behaviour, involvement with the criminal justice system and acute NHS services become more likely.

On communities

Homelessness can often have a negative impact on local communities. We know from one study on the experiences of homeless people with complex problems, that there is a:

  • 77% chance that someone could sleep rough
  • 53%  chance that  someone could be involved in street drinking
  • 32% chance that someone could beg
  • 10% chance that someone could be involved in prostitution.

On the tax-payer

Addressing the immediate and long-term costs of homelessness, can be significant. Putting in place services which prevent homelessness in the first place, and which help people quickly if they find themselves needing support, can help stop these costs escalating.

Research indicates that:

  • the average cost of an A&E visit is £147; 4 out of 10 experiencing homelessness have used A&E in last six month 
  • £1,668 is the average cost per arrest; 7 out of 10 homeless ex-offenders are reconvicted within one year
  • £26, 000 is the estimated average cost of a homeless person each year to public purse
  • £1 billion is the estimated annual cost of homelessness

Tackling homelessness and exclusion: Understanding complex lives 2011

This summary highlights the prevalence of mental health issues, traumatic childhood experiences and suicide attempts amongst people accessing low-level homelessness support services. It brings together evidence from a two-year programme of work on 'multiple exclusion' homelessness in partnership with JRF, Economic and Social Research Council, Tenant Services Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government.