Each year between two and three million people in the United States experience an episode of homelessness. Psychologists — clinicians, researchers, educators and advocates — must expand their efforts to end homelessness.
The 2009 Presidential Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness was commissioned by James Bray, PhD, during his tenure as APA's president.
The Task Force's mission was to identify and address the psychosocial factors and conditions associated with homelessness and define the role of psychologists in ending homelessness.
The prevalence of homelessness
The Task Force adopted an inclusive definition of homelessness. Homelessness exists when people lack safe, stable and appropriate places to live. This definition includes people living doubled up or in overcrowded living situations or motels due to inadequate economic resources as well as those living in tents or other temporary enclosures.
The episodic, transient nature of homelessness makes it difficult to ascertain accurate estimates of prevalence. HUD reported that 1.6 million people were without homes in 2008, but this number is likely to be an underestimate. In the United States, the overall population of people living without homes can be divided into several subgroups, including individual adults, families with children and unaccompanied youth who have left home, run away or "aged out" of foster care placements.