New Perspectives on Community-Level Determinants of Homelessness

Published: 2012 | Thomas Byrne, Ellen A. Mun­ley, Jami­son D. Fargo, Ann E. Mont­gomery, and Den­nis P. Cul­hane | Jour­nal of Ur­ban Af­fairs


Understanding the root causes of homelessness is important for developing effective solutions to the problem. This fact has not gone unnoticed by researchers, who have made numerous attempts to identify the underlying structural determinants of homelessness by modeling inter‐community variation in the rate of homelessness as a function of community‐level variables. Yet, prior studies in this area have a number of serious limitations, principally their reliance on methodologically flawed estimates of the size of the homeless population. The present study addresses this and other limitations by using newly available and more reliable estimates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to model variation in the rate of homelessness across a large and diverse sample of communities throughout the United States. In doing so, this study builds on the analysis conducted by Lee, Price‐Spratlen, and Kanan (2003), and its findings have implications for policy and future research.