The Causes of Homelessness in Later Life: Findings From a 3-Nation Study

Objectives. This article presents findings from a study of the causes of homelessness among newly homeless older people in selected urban areas of the United States, England, and Australia. Methods. Interviews were conducted in each country with 122 older people who had become homeless during the last 2 years. Information was also collected from the subjects' key workers about the circumstances and problems that contributed to homelessness. Results. Two-thirds of the subjects had never been homeless before. Antecedent causes were the accommodation was sold or needed repair, rent arrears, death of a close relative, relationship breakdown, and disputes with other tenants and neighbors. Contributory factors were physical and mental health problems, alcohol abuse, and gambling problems. Discussion. Most subjects became homeless through a combination of personal problems and incapacities, welfare policy gaps, and service delivery deficiencies. Whereas there are nation-specific variations, across the three countries, the principal causes and their interactions are similar. (abstract from

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The Journals of Gerontology