Public exposure and attitudes about homelessness

Jack Tsai, Crystal Y.S. Lee, Jianxun Shen, Steven M. Southwick, Robert H. Pietrzak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this study, we conducted a survey among a large sample of U.S. adults to assess attitudes and beliefs about the causes of homelessness, policies to address homelessness, and programs for homeless individuals. In 2016, we surveyed a national sample of 541 adults from 47 different U.S. states using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Of the total sample, 78% reported that homelessness was a problem in their communities and 60% believed homelessness would increase in the next 5 years. The majority expressed compassion for homeless individuals and endorsed structural, intrinsic, and health factors as causes of homelessness. Most participants (73%–88%) believed the federal government should dedicate more funds and policies for homeless individuals. These attitudes were substantially more likely to be reported by participants who were female, lower income, Democrat, and personally exposed to homelessness. Most Americans care about homelessness as a major problem but there are divergent perspectives on solutions to address homelessness based on gender, income level, and political affiliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-92
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


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