Global Climate Implications for Homelessness: A Scoping Review

Homelessness is a persistent global challenge with significant health impacts on those affected. Homeless people are by definition the most exposed to weather conditions and the social and economic problems caused by extreme weather and climate change and variability. This systematic review was designed to synthesize the academic literature that addresses the health and social implications of global climate change for homelessness. The question examined in this systematic scoping review is the following: What is the current state of knowledge in the scientific literature on the health and social implications of global climate change for homelessness? A systematic scoping review method was used to identify and synthesize the peer-reviewed literature relevant to this question. The databases searched were PsycINFO, Medline, Scopus, and Google Scholar. Of the 26 papers identified in this review, 20 employed original data analyses with conclusions largely inferred from cross-sectional associations. Themes included the potential influence of climate change on homelessness prevalence, climate impacts that exacerbate specific vulnerabilities of homeless populations (e.g., chronic illness, exposure, stigmatization), and health and social outcomes. Service use and design implications were also addressed. Given the scale of the impacts of climate change on homelessness, the literature on this topic poses promising directions but is under-developed in its current state to adequately inform risk mitigation and response planning. A systems framework is proposed here to inform future research and service design.

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Journal of Urban Health