Homelessness is a serious public health issue.[i] Not having a home makes it harder to find a job, stay healthy, and maintain relationships.[ii] Those experiencing homelessness are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts.[iii] Homelessness increases the risk of being exposed to communicable disease (e.g. TB, respiratory illnesses, etc.), violence, malnutrition, and harmful weather. Behavioral health issues such as depression or alcoholism often develop or are made worse in such situations. The risk of being homeless is 10 to 20 times higher among individuals with serious mental illness compared to the general population. Additionally, children living in homeless shelters have been found to suffer from depression, have a behavioral problems, or severe academic delay.
For many years, District 6 has had the greatest number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in San Francisco. Between 2011 and 2017, the homeless population in District 6 accounted for 40%, 46%, 56%, and 53% of the total homeless population in San Francisco respectively. This disproportionate distribution of the city’s homeless population is largely due to the density of shelters and social services located in District 6. However, it is notable that between 2011 and 2015, District 6 saw a 61% increase in its homeless population, while the increase citywide was only 17%. Between 2015 and 2017, there was a 7% drop in the number of counted homeless persons citywide and a 12% drop in District 6.
Homeless count data from San Francisco Homeless Point-In-Time Count, 2011-2015.
[i] The American Public Health Association. Homelessness as a Public Health Problem. January 1, 1992. Retrieved here: http://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2014/07/31/07/56/homelessness-as-a-public-health-problem.
[ii] Henderson, Rick. “Homelessness Is a Public Health Crisis.” The Guardian, July 22, 2014, sec. Housing Network. https://www.theguardian.com/society-professionals/2014/jul/22/homelessness-public-health-crisis.
[iii] “Homelessness and Health: What’s the Connection?” Nashville, TN: National Health Care for the Homeless Council, June 2011. http://www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Hln_health_factsheet_Jan10.pdf.