Resolution on Homelessness

Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives, August 1990.


Whereas adequate and permanent shelter is a basic need, and its absence has a deleterious effect upon physical and mental health, personal development, and the ability to exercise individual rights and obligations;

Whereas groups who have historically been discriminated against, such as ethnic minorities, persons with mental Illness, women, children and youth, have been disproportionately affected by the lack of affordable and suitable housing,

Whereas homelessness may contribute to and may result from severe emotional distress and mental Illness;

Whereas the number of Individuals and families who are without permanent shelter continues to grow, and the number of people at high risk of becoming homeless Is even larger;

Whereas psychologists possess models, theories, techniques, and knowledge that can ameliorate the problems of homeless persons;

Therefore be it resolved that the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association directs the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer to take the following actions:

  • Stimulate research to gather accurate Information about the nature and scope of homelessness, psychological coping strategies of those affected, the psychological costs of homelessness to groups such as children and families, the seriously mentally III, Individuals with disabilities, displaced gay and Iesbian youth, and victimized women and chiIdren, and apply these research findings to consumer-related Intervention programs and policy recommendations;

  • Recommend Immediate action to federal, state, and local officials based on current knowledge to rehouse the homeless, utilize psychologists and other groups experienced In working with poor and ethnic minority communities In policy research and Intervention to assist the homeless, and to provide mental health and supportive services to enable the homeless to Improve their ability to maintain a stable and dignified life style;

  • Advocate that public funds be provided to finance not only emergency responses to the crisis, but also to Implement preventive programs to keep the number of homeless persons and families from growing larger;

  • Disseminate accurate Information about homelessness to psychologists, policymakers, and the public to alert them to the social phenomena that exacerbate the problem and suggest both clinical and systems Interventions for those who suffer the consequences of poverty and homelessness;

  • Encourage and endorse legislation calling for a White House Conference on homelessness.