Original Article

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 47-61

Homelessness in the United States: Assessing Changes in Prevalence and Public Opinion, 1993–2001

  • Carolyn J. TompsettAffiliated withResearch Group on Homelessness and Poverty, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University
  • , Paul A. ToroAffiliated withResearch Group on Homelessness and Poverty, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University Email author 
  • , Melissa GuzickiAffiliated withResearch Group on Homelessness and Poverty, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University
  • , Manuel ManriqueAffiliated withResearch Group on Homelessness and Poverty, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University
  • , Jigna ZatakiaAffiliated withResearch Group on Homelessness and Poverty, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University

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A national survey was administered in 1993–1994 (N = 360) and repeated in 2001 (N = 435) to assess the prevalence of homelessness as well as attitudes, opinions and knowledge regarding homelessness. No significant changes in prevalence were found, despite a strong US economy during most of the 7–8 year period. Respondents in 2001 had less stereotyped views of homeless people and were more supportive of services, but came to see homelessness as a less serious problem that was less often due to economic factors. This “mixed” set of findings may reflect both beliefs on the benefits of a good economy and an increased awareness of the complexity of homelessness. Across the surveys, younger, female, liberal, and less wealthy respondents demonstrated more sympathetic attitudes towards homeless people.

KEY WORDS

public opinion homelessness change prevalence