The panhandler asking for 50 cents or the guy sleeping in a cardboard box under a viaduct may cause most people to avert their eyes and ask themselves about why something cannot be done to help get the homeless off the street. The question seems apt, given that the 40 000 programs in the United States currently offering assistance to the approximately 2 million adults and 1 million children considered homeless have done little to reduce those numbers.
But a few years ago, some researchers, government agencies, and advocates for the homeless began to take a hard look at the data involving the homeless. What they uncovered surprised them and gave hope that a partial solution could be initiated by targeting those for whom homelessness was more than a transient problem.
Mitka M. Chronic Homeless in Intervention Spotlight. JAMA. 2006;295(20):2344-2345. doi:10.1001/jama.295.20.2344