Homelessness Makes You Sick

People experiencing homelessness are generally sicker than their housed counterparts and more prone to death.


Those of us without stable housing are:

  • 3-4x more likely to die prematurely
  • 2x as likely to have a heart attack or stroke
  • 3x more likely to die of heart disease if they are between 25 and 44 years old

Life on the street is brutal. The lack of secure and stable shelter, food, income, hygiene and physical and behavioral health care makes it nearly impossible to be healthy.

The life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness is just 48 years.

Being very sick can make you homeless.

At least 25% of people experiencing homelessness have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. A majority of these individuals also have an addiction.

Medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the United States; more than 20% of Americans between 19 and 64 years old struggle to pay their medical bills.

An injury or illness can start out as a health condition, but quickly lead to job loss. Meanwhile, bills pile up, support networks weaken or subside and people end up sick, in debt and on the street.

If you're sick, homelessness makes you sicker.

Imagine managing diabetes in shelters or on the streets: Where would you store your insulin and syringes? How would you eat healthy when you don’t know where or when you’ll get your next meal—and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be high-sugar, high-fat and starch-laden?

Individuals experiencing homelessness disproportionately exhibit the risk factors for hypertension: race, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and lack of access to healthy food options.  

Children experiencing homelessness have a high rate of asthma and related respiratory challenges, which interfere with schooling and other important life and developmental events.

People living with HIV/AIDS and experiencing homelessness struggle to obtain and use medications. It is difficult to stick to complex medicine regimens without access to stable housing, clean water, bathrooms, refrigeration and food.

Find out how you can help


"At 66 years old I’m still looking for new ways to give back." Read this story from client and community builder, Woodrow McCoy.

View All Profiles

Copyright © 2024 Health Care for the Homeless.

All Rights Reserved.


421 Fallsway, Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 410-837-5533


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram