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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chronically Homeless Substance Abuse Report

There are over one half million homeless people in America, according to a survey conducted in 2013. Of the 600,000 homeless, 26.6 percent report chronic substance abuse, according to The Washington Post. Two-thirds of the homeless were in shelters or temporary housing, and one-third were living on the street.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign, a group whose goal is to find permanent housing for 100,000 chronically homeless people - about one-third of the homeless living on the street are considered chronically homeless. Chronically homeless people are those with mental health problems, addiction or other disabilities who have been homeless for more than one year, or who have been homeless at least four times in the past three years.

The campaign set out to interview many of the un-sheltered homeless. Of the 40,000 individual surveys conducted over the past six years, it was determined that 60 percent of homeless men and women living on the street had experienced some form of substance abuse in their lives.

A number of programs who work with chronically homeless people with addiction problems first put them in temporary housing, with the requirement that they demonstrate that they can remain abstinent from drugs and alcohol, according to the article. Those who can meet the requirements can then move on to living independently in permanent housing. The problem with the aforementioned method is that many are not able to comply with total abstinence or they are unwilling to even start such programs in the first place because the total abstinence rule.

It is worth pointing out, programs that do not require total abstinence, actually see that participants cut down on the amount of alcohol they consume, according to a study published in 2012. The data comes from a study on a Seattle based housing program called Housing First, which provides housing to chronically homeless people, but does not require that they stop drinking in order to participate.

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