The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) in November of 2013. According to the findings, 610,042 people were homeless on a single night in January of 2013. Overall homelessness has declined by 4% since the Point in Time count in January 2012. (The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress). According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, about half of the people experiencing homelessness suffer from mental health issues. At any given point in time, 45 percent of homeless people report having had indicators of mental health problems during the past year. About 25 percent of the homeless population has a serious mental illness, including chronic depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental and physical health problems are exacerbated by living on the streets. (National Alliance to End Homelessness- Mental/Physical Health webpage).
According to a National Institute of Health survey 6.2 percent of respondents who had a serious mental illness in the year prior to the interview, fewer than 40 percent received stable treatment. The barriers to receiving care included affordability, not knowing where to go for care, and wanting to solve the problem on their own. (The prevalence and correlates of untreated serious mental illness NIH-health services research).
In the January 2013 Point-in-Time counts (PIT), done in the greater Kansas City area by the Homeless Services Coalition it is reported that 37.8 percent of homeless individuals had a severe mental illness and 35.7 percent had a chronic substance abuse problem. In 2013 seventy-two percent (72%) of all clients entering Benilde hall were diagnosed with co-occurring disorders. Clearly, there is a continued need for services to treat co-occurring disorders in the homeless population of Kansas City, Missouri.
The cost of homelessness can be quite high. Hospitalization, medical treatment, incarceration, police intervention, and emergency shelter expenses can add up quickly, making homelessness surprisingly expensive for municipalities and taxpayers.
– National Alliance to End Homelessness