Real Cost of Homelessness

Preventing and Ending HomelessnessKeysHomelessness Hurts Us Too
Homelessness doesn’t just hurt families. It also affects us, with social and economic costs to our community.


KeysIncreased Public Costs for Medical Care

  • Hospital bills are $2,414 more for people who are homeless. This is because they stay in the hospital for four days longer on average, says a New England Journal of Medicine study.1
  • Children who are homeless are sick and go to the emergency room more often than other children.2 They also are:
    • Twice as many ear infections.
    • Four times as many asthma attacks.
    • Five times more stomach problems.
    • Six times as many speech problems.
    • Twice as many hospitalizations.3


KeysIncreased Public Costs for Education

  • Children who are homeless are more likely to have lower academic achievement.4 They are:
    • Four times as likely to have developmental delays.
    • Twice as likely to have learning disabilities.
    • Twice as likely to repeat a grade, most often due to frequent absences and moves to new schools.5


1 Salit S.A., Kuhn E.M., Hartz A.J., Vu J.M., Mosso A.L. Hospitalization costs associated with homelessness in New York City. New England Journal of Medicine 1998; 338: 1734-1740.

2 Weinreb, L., et al., “Determinants of health and service use patterns in homeless and low-income housed children,” Pediatrics 102(3) (1998): 554-62

3 National Center on Family Homelessness, Homeless Children: America’s New Outcasts. Newton, MA: 1999.

4 Buckner, J.C., Bassuk, E.L., Weinreb, L.F., and Brooks, M.G. (1999). “Homelessness and its relationship to the mental health and behavior of low income school age children” Developmental Psychology 35(1): 246-257

5 Garcia-Coll, C., et al., “The developmental status and adaptive behavior of homeless and low-income housed infants and toddlers,” Am. J. Public Health 88(9) (1998): 1371-4; Bassuk, E.L., et al., “Determinants of behavior in homeless and low-income housed preschool children,” Pediatrics 100(1) (1997): 92-100;National Center on Family Homelessness, Homeless Children: America’s New Outcasts. Newton, MA: 1999.


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