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Frequent Users of Services in New York City: Investigating Antecedent Factors, Life Experiences, and Triggers Associated with Cycles of Homelessness and Incarceration

Bozack, Anne K.

This research investigates the antecedent factors and triggers of frequent episodes of homelessness and incarceration among individuals in New York City. Prior studies have shown a high rate of homelessness among formerly incarcerated individuals and, conversely, a high rate of incarceration among homeless individuals. In New York City, as many as one in five inmates was homeless immediately prior to incarceration and many return to homelessness upon discharge. Individuals who cycle between homeless shelters and jails and prisons have distinct social and health service needs. Improved knowledge of the factors and experiences associated with entrance into the cycle of homelessness and incarceration may improve the delivery and efficacy of services to help prevent and break the cycle. This research consists of a secondary analysis of data derived from the Housing and Services Evaluation (HASE) study of frequent users of New York City homeless shelters and jails. Qualitative and quantitative analysis was used to address the following aims: The first aim was to examine risk factors antecedent to homelessness and incarceration by investigating individual-level characteristics including demographics, clinical conditions, human capital, and social ties. The second was to investigate negative life experiences that appear to increase vulnerability of experiencing frequent homelessness and incarceration. The third aim was to examine proximal events that trigger the initial episode of homelessness. Results showed high rates of limited human capital, limited family networks, chronic health conditions, mental illness, substance abuse, and negative experiences in childhood and adolescence. Analysis of narrative responses identified events that commonly trigger homelessness, including involvement with the criminal justice system, interpersonal conflict, change in household composition, being "kicked out" of shared housing, and employment or other economic problems.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Aidala, Angela A.
Degree
M.P.H., Columbia University
Published Here
March 27, 2012
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