Priority of Basic Needs Among Homeless Adults

When asked to prioritize five basic needs, 529 homeless adults in two Southern California beach communities chose good health above all others, followed by a steady income, a permanent job, a permanent home, and regular meals. Respondents who placed greater value on having a permanent home were more likely to be female, have children, be from an ethnic minority, and be more concerned about their homelessness, but were homeless a shorter length of time. These respondents were also more likely to be living in a shelter, receiving government support, and have health insurance. However, they were more emotionally distressed and less likely to rate their life or their health favorably, although they did not report more frequent symptoms of illness or have more chronic diseases. Respondents who placed greater importance on a permanent job were more likely to be younger, male, have fewer chronic diseases, better functional status, and more favorable perceptions of their current health. They were better groomed, more likely to have been working, and less likely to be receiving government support. These and other findings suggest that homeless adults are a very heterogeneous group with very different needs, habits, and priorities which should be considered in providing services to them (authors).

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Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology