A population-based assessment of the health of homeless families in New York City, 2001-2003

Bonnie D. Kerker, Jay Bainbridge, Joseph Kennedy, Yussef Bennani, Tracy Agerton, Dova Marder, Lisa Forgione, Andrew Faciano, Lorna E. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. We compared estimated population-based health outcomes for New York City (NYC) homeless families with NYC residents overall and in lowincome neighborhoods. Methods. We matched a NYC family shelter user registry to mortality, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and blood lead test registries maintained by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2001-2003). Results. Overall adult age-adjusted death rates were similar among the 3 populations. HIV/AIDS and substance-use deaths were 3 and 5 times higher for homeless adults than for the general population; only substance-use deaths were higher than for low-income adults. Children who experienced homelessness appeared to be at an elevated risk of mortality (41.3 vs 22.5 per 100000; P<.05). Seven in 10 adult and child deaths occurred outside shelter. Adult HIV/AIDS diagnosis rates were more than twice citywide rates but comparable with low-income rates, whereas tuberculosis rates were 3 times higher than in both populations. Homeless children had lower blood lead testing rates and a higher proportion of lead levels over 10 micrograms per deciliter than did both comparison populations. Conclusions. Morbidity and mortality levels were comparable between homeless and low-income adults; homeless children's slightly higher risk on some measures possibly reflects the impact of poverty and poor-quality, unstable housing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-553
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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