To date, most of the empirical work on homelessness has been cross-sectional or of limited duration of follow-up. Therefore, there is little understanding of the impact of homelessness over the life course or its association with access to services or participation in social and community activities. "What is now needed is an assertive, coordinated effort to thrust the science of homelessness prevention forward," says Dr. Susser.
Preliminary evidence as well as field experience suggests that homelessness experiences can exacerbate existing illnesses, impede recovery, and provoke new illnesses. "For all these reasons, we believe that our prevention program must focus on both high risk and population-level prevention," notes Dr. Caton. The strategy of the Columbia Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies is to develop an agenda for homelessness prevention studies ranging from pre-intervention research to Phase I, II, and III clinical trials and effectiveness studies.
Contact: Stephanie Berger
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health