The Homeless Population in the U.S — Approaching Homelessness using Vulnerable Population Conceptual Model (VPCM)


TheHomeless Population in the U.S — Approaching Homelessness usingVulnerable Population Conceptual Model (VPCM)

TheHomeless Population in the U.S — Approaching Homelessness usingVulnerable Population Conceptual Model (VPCM)

Homelessnessis one of the social issues that the society is grappling to address.Homelessness is a critical issue and does not only serve as anindicator of poverty, but also a correlate of adverse social andeconomic challenges. Addressing the issue begins by understanding thenature of the problem on the ground, while Vulnerable PopulationConceptual Model (VPCM) lends itself as an appropriate framework toapproach the issue of homelessness in the United States.

TheVPCM is an approach that applied in assessing the needs of vulnerablecommunity or individuals. As documented by Leight (2014), the VPCMmodel posits that social and health vulnerabilities are largelydetermined by the interrelationships among health statuses, resourceendowments, and relative risks. In this case, resource availabilitydescribes the social, economic, and environmental resources that anindividual or a community is predisposed to and includes educationachievements, jobs, and healthcare access, housing, and communitylifestyles. Relative risks describe the likelihood by which one ispredisposed to risks and is characterized by elements such aslifestyle choices and behaviors and exposure to stressful stimuli.Lastly, health status describes the health conditions of a communityand it is marked by elements such as life expectancy, morbidity, andmorbidity (Leight, 2014).


Typically,the population of people considered homeless is adversely affected bypoverty and limited access to basic resources. The statistics showhomeless population tends to be unemployed or low-wage earners whoare not able to afford a decent house. Accordingto U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2013), themedium income for homeless population is less than 100 dollars, whilethe cheapest affordable housing is about 195 dollars. Therefore, ifone were to rent a house, he would spend all the income on rent andstill fall short. Besides, the homeless populations are characterizedby low employment. According to U.S. Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment (2013), many of the homeless people remain unemployed forseveral years — this group stays for an average of 4.5 yearswithout a job after their last employment years, while if employed,they do not always work for more than 3 months before the tenure isterminated. Nevertheless, another important element of homelessnessis social isolation. Many of the homeless people lack contexts withother people. Many are unmarried or divorced. As noted by Rossi andWright (2014), only 9 percent of the homeless were members ofestablished families.


Homelessconditions, including sleeping rough, have the capability toinfluence health outcomes of the vulnerable populations. For example,the homeless are susceptible to accidents and health hazards linkedto the cramped or cold environment. Besides, accidents could alsoresult from adverse environmental conditions, which are to blame forat least over 11% of resultant accidents and health complications.Street environments or shanties leave limited space for children toplay in a safety environment. According toBurt and Aron (2012), sincemany of the affected people, including children, spend more than 90percent of their time in the places they sleep rough, the interveningconditions are considered risky to their health because of thelikelihood of hazardous environment. The interpretation of theepidemiological proof about health effects of dump environment andnon-drywall is one of the dangerous environments that characterizeover-crowded and other areas homeless seek refuge. Another relativerisk of homelessness is stress and depression. Owning a home maycause one to have feelings of security and satisfaction while lackinga home may lead to anxiety and much worry.


Asignificant fraction of the homeless population suffers fromphysical, mental, and social disabilities. In every four homelesspeople, at least one suffers from a health conditions that limit themfrom seeking employment (Rossi &amp Wright. 2014). Some of thenotable health conditions include mental illness, gastrointestinaldisorders, and cardiovascular diseases. As Link,Schwartz and Moore etal.(2014) explain,about 37 percent of the homeless population report suffering frompoor health conditions. Moreover, many of the homeless population(about 34 percent) are likely to be admitted tohospital at least onceper year. Country’s homelessness is also responsible for causingrampant forms of health challenges that have far-reachingconsequences on the wellness of residents, characterized by low lifeexpectancies, high levels of disease infections and mortality rates.


Inconclusion, homelessness is one of the social issues that the societyis grappling to address. It is a critical issue and does not onlyserve as an indicator of poverty, but also a correlate of adversesocial and economic challenges. Addressing the issue begins byunderstanding the nature of the problem on the ground. VPCM isapplied in assessing the needs of a population vulnerable tosocioeconomic and health challenges. This model reveals homelessnessis largely determined by the interrelationships among healthstatuses, resource endowments, and relative risks. In this regard,the process of addressing homelessness should consider the threehighlighted elements.


Burt,M &amp Aron, L. (2012).America`sHomeless. Populationsand Services.Retrieved from

LeightS (2014).The Application of a Vulnerable Populations Conceptual Modelto Rural Health. PublicHealth Nurs 20(6):440-8.

LinkBG, Schwartz S, Moore R, et al. (2014). &quotPublic knowledge,attitudes, and beliefs about homeless people: evidence for compassionfatigue&quot. AmJ Community Psychol.23(4): 533–55

Rossi,P. &amp Wright. D (2014). The determinants of homelessnessHealth Affairs 6(1):19-32

U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development (2013) AnnualHomeless Assessment Report to the Congress.U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of CommunityPlanning and Development