Nav: Home

History of incarceration linked to subsequent homelessness, study finds

March 01, 2017

TORONTO, March 1, 2017 -- People who have been incarcerated in Canada are more likely to subsequently experience unstable housing or homelessness compared with those who have not, new research suggests.

People reporting a history of incarceration in the past 12 months were less likely to be housed during the subsequent year compared with those who hadn't (25 per cent vs. 75 per cent, respectively), according to the report, published online today in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

"The Canadian criminal justice system is intended to facilitate the entry of criminal offenders back into society," said Dr. Dan Werb, a research scientist at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael's Hospital and senior author of the study.

"What our findings suggest, however, is that incarceration likely increases the vulnerability of people who were previously in unstable housing situations, because it increases their risk of not finding secure housing after being released from prison."

The report is part of the Housing and Homelessness in Transition study, a longitudinal study tracking the health and housing status of 1,200 vulnerably housed and homeless single adults in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa over four years.

Of the 1,189 homeless and vulnerably housed adults who participated in the study, 29 per cent reported a history of incarceration in the past 12 months. Researchers followed up with them one and two years later.

The study also reports that only roughly one-third of people with a history of incarceration across all three cities (i.e., Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa) reported being housed during the two-year study period. Almost twice as many men reported being housed compared with women and transgender people (66 per cent vs. 34 per cent). Twice as many Caucasian people reported being housed compared with people of other ethnicities (66 per cent vs 34 per cent).

Of those who reported a history of incarceration, people who also reported injection drug use at the beginning of the study were less likely to be housed (16 per cent) compared to those who did not (83.8 per cent) and at the followup one year (33 per cent) and two years (32 per cent) later.

People less than 30 years old who reported a history of incarceration were least likely to report being housed (14 per cent), compared with 30-39-year-olds (24 per cent), 40-49-year-olds (38 per cent), and those 50 years and older (24 per cent) over the study period.

According to the authors, the findings highlight the importance of assisting individuals experiencing incarceration with securing stable housing during discharge and post-release planning.

"The impact of incarceration on people's capacities to house themselves over many years has clear implications for the appropriateness of using the criminal justice system to respond to issues among homeless and unstably housed people in Canada," said Dr. Werb, who has a PhD in epidemiology.
-end-
This study received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media contacts

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Kelly O'Brien
Communications Advisor - Media, St. Michael's Hospital
416-864-5047
obrienkel@smh.ca

St. Michael's Hospital

Related Public Health Articles:

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.
BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.
The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.
Bloomberg American Health Initiative releases special public health reports supplement
With US life expectancy now on the decline for two consecutive years, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative is releasing a supplement to Public Health Reports, the scholarly journal of the US Surgeon General.
Data does the heavy lifting: Encouraging new public health approaches to promote the health benefits of muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE)
According to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, almost 75 percent of US adults do not comply with public health guidelines recommending two or more muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE) sessions a week, with nearly 60 percent of the population doing no MSE at all.
The Lancet Public Health: Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health
Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.
Mass. public safety, public health agencies collaborate to address the opioid epidemic
A new study shows that public health and public safety agencies established local, collaborative programs in Massachusetts to connect overdose survivors and their personal networks with addiction treatment, harm reduction, and other community support services following a non-fatal overdose.
Cyber attacks can threaten public health
Gordon and Landman have authored a Perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine that addresses the growing threat of attacks on information systems and the potential implications on public health.
Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
More Public Health News and Public Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.