Chronic Homelessness

Among people who experience homelessness, there is a subset of individuals with disabling health conditions who remain homeless for long periods of time — some for years or decades. As the AUAR report shows, there are 905 chronically homeless people in Long Beach and the number reaches to 12,356 in Los Angeles city and county (2015 AUAR Report). These men and women experiencing chronic homelessness usually have a combination of mental health problems, substance use disorders, and medical conditions that worsen over time and too often lead to an early death. Without access to the right types of care, they cycle in and out of hospital emergency departments and inpatient beds, detox programs, jails, prisons, and psychiatric institutions, all at high public expense.

Homelessness Nationwide Decline0%
Percentage of Unsheltered Homeless in Long Beach0%

We’ve made significant progress in our national effort to end chronic homelessness. Since 2010, chronic homelessness has declined 22% nationwide. Also, in Long beach the figure declined 13% since 2013. However, our progress is slowing. There were an estimated 83,170 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness on our streets and in our shelters on a single night in January 2015 — a slim 1% decrease from the previous year. In Long Beach, 79% of the chronic homeless are unsheltered. We must consider this reduced momentum a call to action — not only to the communities that must work harder in identifying, engaging, and prioritizing these vulnerable people in permanent supportive housing, but also to leaders at the federal, state, and local levels who can make the additional investments needed to solve this problem.

The solutions to chronic homelessness are proposed interventions such as providing permanent supportive housing, improving healthcare access, and training programs for preventive health care. However, there is a need for tailored health program targeted at specific health problems of homeless population. Mental health, drug and alcohol problems, the effects of cold weather, nutritional deficiencies, and poor personal hygiene are the main concerns for chronic homelessness. However, health is not always an immediate priority for the homeless, with daily concerns predominating, such as shelter and getting money for food (Power & Hunter, 2001).


Power. R & Hunter. G (2001). Developing a strategy for community-based health promotion targeting homeless populations, Health Education Research, 16: 593-602