How Homelessness Works

The Effects of Homelessness

Living on the street makes homeless people more vulnerable to abuse. Over the last decade, there have been more than 600 attacks against homeless people, says the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Homeless people have been brutally attacked with baseball bats, chains and other weapons. Women have been raped.

Homelessness tears families apart. Some shelters won’t take boys. Others won’t accept children. A mother may have to watch helplessly as her children are taken from her and placed with relatives or in foster care.


Being without a home takes a terrible toll on children. Homeless children have higher rates of ear infections, stomach problems and asthma than other children their age. They are also more likely to be depressed, anxious, or withdrawn, and have more difficulty in school than their peers.

Homeless adults are also at greater risk for serious health conditions. Exposure to the elements and unsanitary living conditions can lead to frostbite, leg ulcers and upper respiratory infections. Serious illnesses like HIV/AIDS, diabetes and tuberculosis are more common in homeless people than among the general population.