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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 4: Access, utilization, and cost of services

4.10. How many homeless people have disabilities due to mental disorders?

Up to 800,000 Americans are homeless on any given night. Each year, 2.3 to 3.5 million people (about 1% of the population) experience homelessness.

It is difficult to determine how many homeless people have disabilities due to mental disorders. Based on reviews of more than 160 homeless studies, the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness estimated that at least one-third of homeless people have severe mental illness.

In a national survey of adults using homeless services, 75%* reported mental health or substance abuse problems. About 15% reported mental health problems only, 31% reported a combination of mental health and substance abuse problems and 29% reported substance abuse problems only.

Seventy-five percent of homeless adults reported mental health or substance abuse problems.

Figure 30 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 30: Percentage of adult homeless people reporting mental health problems, substance abuse problems and no problems, 1996

Source: Burt (2001); U.S. Bureau of the Census (1996); Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness (1992); Policy Research Associates (1997)

Surveys: National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients, 1996

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