235703 Homelessness in Baltimore: Understanding and mapping risk across neighborhoods

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:45 PM

Mary Anne Alabanza-Akers, PhD , School of Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Jonathan B. VanGeest, PhD , College of Public Health, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Linda Loubert, PhD , Economics Department, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Homelessness remains a pressing social and public health concern, with at least 800,000 people homeless on any given day in the United States. In Baltimore, Maryland previous point estimates suggest that over 3,000 people are homeless daily. Results of these earlier studies also indicate that the numbers of homeless in Baltimore are rising and have identified a significant minority of chronic homeless (defined as being homeless for more than one year) with substance abuse and mental health issues. Large numbers of homeless individuals sleep in outdoor places in the city not appropriate for habitation, including sidewalks, park benches, and public buildings. Using data from the Baltimore Point-in-Time Census, we develop risk profiles of the homeless in the city. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software was then used to map the spatial distribution of the homeless in the city in relationship to existing service provision. We also examined the habitats of the homeless, with a focus on those areas identified in the street count. The risk profiles that emerge from this study's findings can be used to help allocate resources and services in a more efficient manner and target programming towards geographic areas with high levels of need. More concretely, the risk and habitat profiles can guide the development and implementation of new and emerging prevention initiatives to help ensure success of the city's Five Year Plan to end homelessness.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify community areas with high concentrations of homeless. Explore the habitat of street homeless. Discuss program and policy implications for homeless prevention initiatives.

Keywords: Homelessness, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have extensive experience working with this population. Publications include: Alabanza-Akers MA, VanGeest JB, Loubert L, Wong S, Kamal A, Perry M. The Impact of the Baltimore Housing Resource Center. Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Mayor’s Office, 2008. VanGeest JB, Johnson TP. Substance abuse and homelessness: Direct or indirect effects? Annals of Epidemiology. 2002;12(7):455-461. VanGeest JB, Johnson TP. Substance use patterns among homeless migrants and nonmigrants in Chicago. Substance Use & Misuse. 1997;32(7/8):877-907. Johnson TP, Freels SA, Parsons JA, VanGeest JB. Substance abuse and homelessness: Social selection or social adaptation? Addiction. 1997;92(4):437-445.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.