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Childhood Adversity

Childhood adversity increases the risk of later homelessness (Roos et al., 2013) and is intricately tied to a cluster of high-risk behaviors in the lives of homeless adults. Common in the early life experiences of homeless adults are extreme poverty, household mobility, inconsistent parenting, and abuse. Out-of-home placement in childhood (Caton et al., 1994; Koegel et al., 1995; Park et al., 2005; Patterson et al., 2015; Susser et al., 1991; Tsai et al., 2011), parental and family instability (Caton et al., 1994), and poor care from a parent (Herman et al., 1997) are well documented in the lives of homeless people, including those with severe mental illness. About one-quarter to one-third of homeless adults experienced foster care placement in childhood (Burt et al., 2001; Park et al., 2005; Patterson et al., 2015; Susser et al., 1991; Zlotnick, 2009; Zlotnick et al., 1999; Zugazaga, 2004). In addition to being predictive of a longer duration of adult homelessness, childhood adversity is associated with a host of psychological, social, and health outcomes in adulthood, including incomplete high school (Patterson et al., 2015), reduced labor force participation (Patterson et al., 2015; Tam et al., 2003), early initiation into the use of alcohol and drugs (Patterson et al., 2014), substance abuse (Rosenberg et al., 2007), poor mental health (Rosenberg et al., 2007), criminal justice involvement and incarceration (Desai et al., 2000; Rosenberg et al., 2007; Saddichha et al., 2014), victimization (Roy et al., 2014) and HIV risk (Caton et al., 2013; Rosenberg et al., 2007).

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