Homelessness in a National Sample of Incarcerated Veterans in State and Federal Prisons
- 1.1k Downloads
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has been increasing efforts to reach out to assist incarcerated veterans. While previous studies have shown strong associations between incarceration and homelessness, few studies have examined distinctive characteristics of incarcerated homeless and non-homeless veterans. National administrative data on 30,348 incarcerated veterans served by the Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) program were analyzed. Incarcerated veterans were classified into four groups based on their history of past homelessness: not homeless, transiently homeless, episodically homeless, and chronically homeless. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare groups on sociodemographic characteristics, criminal justice status, clinical status, and their interest in using VHA services. Of the sample, 70 % were classified as not homeless, 8 % as transiently homeless, 11 % as episodically homeless, and 11 % as chronically homeless. Thus, 30 % of the sample had a homeless history, which is five times the 6 % rate of past homelessness among adult men in the general population. Compared to non-homeless incarcerated veterans, all three homeless groups reported significantly more mental health problems, more substance abuse, more times arrested in their lifetime, more likely to be incarcerated for a non-violent offense, and were more interested in receiving VHA services after release from prison. Together, these findings suggest re-entry programs, like HCRV, can address relevant mental health-related service needs, especially among formerly homeless veterans and veterans in need of services are receptive to the offer of assistance.
KeywordsPrisoners Homeless persons Veterans Health services
- Burt, M. R., Aron, L. Y., Douglas, T., Valente, J., Lee, E., & Iwen, B. (1999). Homelessness: programs and the people they serve: Findings of the national survey of homeless assistance providers and clients. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
- Culhane, D. P., Metraux, S., Park, J. M., Schretzman, M., & Valente, J. (2007). Testing a typology of family homelessness based on patterns of public shelter utilization in four U.S. Jurisdictions: Implications for policy and program planning. Housing Policy Debate, 18(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fischer, P. J. (1988). Criminal activity among the homeless: Study of arrests in Baltimore. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 39(4), 6–51.Google Scholar
- Larimer, M. E., Malone, D. K., Garner, M. D., Atkins, D. C., Burlingham, B., Lonczak, H. S., et al. (2009). Health care and public service use and costs before and after provision of housing for chronically homeless persons with severe alcohol problems. Journal of American Medical Association, 301, 1349–1357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Noonan, M. E., & Mumola, C. J. (2007). Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.Google Scholar
- Sadowski, L. S., Kee, R. A., VanderWeele, T. J., & Buchanan, D. (2009). Effect of a housing and case management program on emergency department visits and hospitalizations among chronically ill homeless adults: A randomized trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(17), 1771–1778.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (2009). Secretary Shinseki details plans to end homelessness for veterans. Retrieved January 12, 2012 from http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1807.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012). Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative Retrieved March 28, 2012 from http://www.va.gov/homeless/vjo.asp.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2007). Defining chronic homelessness: A technical guide for HUD programs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, & U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2011). Veteran homelessness: A supplemental report to the 2010 annual homeless assessment report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans.Google Scholar