Housing, Homelessness, and Social Inclusion: Essential Elements of Healthy Communities (teleconference)
Homelessness has become a widespread public health issue with an estimated 671,859 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Stable housing is an essential human need and is a key social determinant of both health and mental health. Many who become homeless have a history of either childhood or adult trauma, or both, that can lead to the development of mental health problems and/or substance use disorders which become worse when an individual lives on the streets or in shelters.
"The goal of all prevention efforts must be safe, stable affordable, housing in mainstream settings and high quality services in the community," wrote Kenneth R. Wireman in the Journal of Primary Prevention. Without this, homelessness will continue to be a major issue with huge human and economic costs that affect individuals and the community. The importance of social connectedness must also be recognized and acted upon to reduce homelessness. Research has shown the importance of social connectedness to prevent homelessness and to help those who have experienced homelessness to reenter their communities as contributing members. Involving people in recovery in the development of services that support growth, wellness, and empowerment is essential if social inclusion is to become a reality. Preventing homelessness for individuals leads to improved health outcomes and reduced costs.