Death Rates Among Homeless Continue to Climb

No AddressThe health policy research journal Health Affairs recently published a study that takes a hard look at mortality rates in homeless communities nationwide. Results indicate that the death rate more than tripled in the decade between 2011 and 2020.

The increase in overdoses definitely played a large role in those numbers, but people living on the streets also die from things like heat and cold exposure, injuries, diseases, and diabetes, that might not cause death if they had a home or access to preventative medical care. Counties have also made improvements to tracking statistics, although most state and federal data don’t require medical examiners to list housing status when recording deaths.

In a recent study examining 22,143 deaths among the homeless populations of 22 communities in 10 states and Washington, D.C., the death rate rose from 814 per 100,000 homeless residents in 2011 to 2,752 in 2020. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate for the general population came in at 1,027 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020. Statistics show that overdoses caused 986 deaths per 100,000 people experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a 488 percent increase since 2011.

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