New Study Links Traumatic Brain Injury and Homelessness

Antonio DeSilva, who is currently homeless, plays with his dogs outside his tent on September 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo credit Getty

Medical researchers have uncovered some new findings that could provide a link among many in the homeless population.   

According to research from The Lancet Public Health journal, homeless in the U.S. and five other countries finds that 53 percent of homeless people have suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury at some point in their lives --- up to four times the rate of the general population.

“The relationship between homelessness and TBI could function both ways – TBI could increase the risk of homelessness, and homelessness could increase the risk of TBI,” Jehannine Austin from the British Columbia mental health and substance use services research institute in Canada said in an interview with the Guardian. “We need a better understanding of this relationship to address the issue, and to improve outcomes in the homeless and marginally housed population.”

There are now more than 36,000 homeless people in the city of LA, and nearly 59,000 across LA county, a 16% and 12% uptick respectively, according to an annual LA county report released in June

According to the report:
  • More than 44,000 (75%) of the homeless population are unsheltered, with more than 16,000 people living in cars and more than 11,000 in tents and makeshift shelters.
  • The number of homeless families increased by 8% to 8,800, with more than 1,600 of them unsheltered.
  • Youth homelessness also increased by 24% to nearly 4,000, and more than half of young people are unsheltered.
  • More than half of unsheltered adults are experiencing homelessness for the first time.

LA mayor, Eric Garcetti, called the increase “heartbreaking” in a statement at the time, according to the Guardian. “These results remind us of a difficult truth: skyrocketing rents statewide and federal disinvestment in affordable housing, combined with an epidemic of untreated trauma and mental illness, is pushing people into homelessness faster than they can be lifted out,” he said.