Unmet Needs of Homeless at a Shelter in an Area Undergoing Urbanization

Maranda Herner, Christopher Parker, Nicholas McClellan, Louise Muscato, Elisabeth Guenther


Homelessness persists as a reality for many. Homeless individuals in smaller cities may face unique challenges.

This study aims to describe the current situation of the homeless at a shelter in a small city with rural surroundings to inform program development and resource allocation.

A cross-sectional, orally-conducted survey assessed demographics, service utilization and health status of a convenience sample of individuals using the services of a homeless shelter in Albany, Oregon. IRB approval was obtained (exempt status).

A total of 37 individuals participated in this survey. Of those surveyed, 43% reported being homeless a year or longer, only 9% reported current employment, and 46% reported a past felony conviction. Despite 65% reporting a mental health diagnosis, only 33% of those diagnosed reported medication use. Considering general health, 59% report chronic pain and 19% report history of seizures.

Many of those surveyed reported having health insurance (75%) and visiting a healthcare provider within the last year (78%) and within the last month (43%).

Despite having some access to healthcare, attention to both physical and mental health problems is lacking. Furthermore, unemployment and long-term homelessness remain problems.

Keywords: homeless; rural; urbanization; health; unemployment

Full Text:


The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.