Homelessness is a complex issue, with varied and sometimes conflicting definitions. It is an issue sitting at the intersection of public health, housing affordability, domestic violence, mental illness, substance misuse, urbanization, racial and gender discrimination, infrastructure, and unemployment. The interplay between these elements is expressed in a host of ways depending upon local context. Levels of homelessness rise and fall dependent on shifts in and changes to any one of the elements. But with the right mix of program interventions, well-coordinated local systems, and effective policy, we have seen that homelessness is an issue that can be successfully solved.
In this paper, we recommend a framework for defining homelessness, explore the state of homelessness, its demographics, and its poor measurement in the thirty-nine countries with advanced economies as defined by the International Monetary Fund, and provide an overview of strategies that have successfully reduced homelessness.