In January 2002, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council released a report titled: Hard to Reach: Rural Homelessness and Health Care. It was funded through a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA.
The report summarizes what is known about the causes of rural homelessness, describes the characteristics of the homeless, some urban /rural differences, frequently encountered health problems, and the barriers to care the rural homeless face. The author looks at strategies that service providers are using to meet the challenges and lists the providers' recommendations for policy and practice. Although the visibility and number of homeless people is greater in urban areas, it is a serious and growing problem in rural communities. In fact, the incidence of homelessness in some rural areas is similar or greater than that found in major urban areas.
Compared to the urban homeless, rural homeless people are less likely to receive government assistance, have health insurance, or have access to medical care. Rural homeless were found to be more likely to be stigmatized, be less educated, be employed, have fewer and shorter episodes of homelessness, and live with family or friends rather than in shelters or on the streets.
Copies of this report can be downloaded or purchased from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council's website at: www.nhchc.org