2010 Health Survey


Health Survey- January 2010

These are the results of the House the Homeless HEALTH SURVEY conducted at the 9th annual House the Homeless Thermal Underwear Give Away Party in Austin Texas. We interviewed 501 people experiencing homelessness. We found the results a bit shocking and very pointed. We had four principle goals in conducting the survey: 1) gather core health information, 2) address the No Sitting/No Lying Down “Quality of Life” Ordnance in a pyramidal/progressive fashion, 3) address the unsympathetic characterizations that depicts people experiencing homelessness as unworthy of our nations sympathy and resources. and 4) review ADA implications. We have concluded that while the large majority of people experiencing homelessness want to work, only about half (48%) are able to do so.

1) Males 408 Females 85 Transgender 8 Average Age 45.08
Average Yrs in Austin 14.30 TOTAL 501

2) Do you get a Disability Check? Yes – 9, with 10 pending.
Type: SSI 64 SSDI 33 VA 8 VA and SSDI 3 = 108 Total Benefit Recipients

How much do you get each month total? $685.55 – Average monthly benefit total

3) Do you have a Mobility Impaired Bus card? Yes – 116 total, plus 10 pending

4) Check ALL that apply. Do you have?…

High blood pressure 204 Mental Illness 175 What Type? Schizophrenia 16
Bi-Polar 86

Diabetes 84 Shots 16 Panic Attacks 70
Arthritis 123 HIV/AIDS 10 Seizures 45

Regular illegal drug user? Yes – 59
Do you believe you are an alcoholic? Yes – 92

5) Have you ever had a brain injury? Yes – 83

6) Do you have cancer? Yes – 83

What type? Prostrate 6
Throat 3
Liver 3
Testicular 2
Cervical 2
Bone 2
Skin 2
Kidney 2
Colon 1
Lymphoma 1
Fibroid 1
Pancreatic 1
Hodgkin 1

7) What other serious disease or condition do you have?

Debilitating Chronic Back Pain 21
Debilitating Chronic Knee Pain 14
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 9
Asthma 8
Generalized Pain 4
Anxiety 4
Fibromyalgia 4
Metal Plates/Ankle 3
Hypoglycemic 3
Stroke 3
Sciatica 3
Emphysema 3
Hip Problems 3
Heart Disease 2
High Cholesterol 2
Intestinal Hernia – Massive 2
Metallic Ankle 2
Neuropathy 2
Paranoid Schizophrenic 2
Hyper Active Deficit Disorder 2
Pancreatic 2
Eye Injury 2
Severe Hearing Loss 2
Chronic Viral Bronchitis 2
Degenerative Joint Disease 2
Carpal Tunnel 2
High Cholesterol 2
Glaucoma 2
Degenerative Bone Disease 2
Neurological Disorder 2
Tinnitus 2
Shoulder Plate 2
Scoliosis 2
Circulatory Problems 2

7) CONTINUED: What other serious disease or condition do you have?

Sleep Apnea 1
Hyperthyroid 1
Graves Disease 1
Pregnant 1
OC Disorders 1
Walking Pneumonia 1
Delusions 1
Cirrhosis 1
Dizziness 1
Bad Feet Due to Circulation 1
Arterial Sclerosis 1
Irritable Bowel Syndrome 1
Muscle Control Loss 1
Kidney Disease 1
Degenerative Rheumatoid Arthritis 1
Degenerative Disc Disease 1
Phlebitis 1
Standing and Mobility Issues 1
Missing Digits 1
Tendonitis 1
Brain Bleeds 1
Hip Replacement 1
Cirrhosis of the Liver 1
Broken Pelvis 1
Hepatitis B 1
Anti-Social Behavior 1
Heart Pacemaker (Endocarditic) 1
Heart Murmur 1
Faucet Disease 1
Totally Blind in One Eye 1
Thyroid 1
Gunshot wound (GSW) to Head 1
Degenerative Nerve Disease 1
Parkinson’s Disease 1
Gall Stones 1
Chronic Gastritis 1
Plate in Elbow 1
Chronic Ulcers 1
Osteoporosis 1
Degenerative Heart Disease 1
Acid Reflux 1
Hallucinations 1
Arm Amputated 1

8) Are any of these conditions keeping you from working? Yes – 241

9) Do you smoke cigarettes? Yes – 381

Less than 10 per day 130
About ½ pack per day 78
About 1 pack per day 129
About 1 and ½ packs per day 23
About 2 packs per day 15
More than 2 packs per day 1

10) Do you have severe shortness of breath? Yes – 145
Do you ever need to stop and rest when you are walking before you can continue?
Yes – 330

11) Have you ever needed to sit down and been unable to locate a bench? Yes – 472



 Men taking the survey out numbered the women by almost 5-1.

 The average age of “single” homeless survey resulted in an average age
of 45, which equates to the general conception of the general population.

 The average number of years in Austin (14.30) indicates that the term “transient” is a misnomer, as these individuals are clearly long-term members of our community.

 Given the number of persons experiencing various types of cancer (26) and number of people with other disabling conditions (186) as when compared to those receiving disability benefits (108) indicates that this is again a seriously under served faction of our community.

 Of those surveyed, 241 said that a health condition keeps them for working (48.10%).

 381 surveyed said they smoked a significant amount of cigarettes per day ranging from “less than 10” (130) and “about 2 packs per day” (15) with the heaviest concentration smoking “about 1 pack per day” (129). With 381 of the 501 persons surveyed yielding 76.04% overall one can see a possible relationship between this and the perspective that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of death among people experiencing homelessness.

 Not surprisingly, 145 folks said that they experienced shortness of breath, with 330 people finding that they “needed to stop and rest when walking before they were able to continue.”

 Finally, 472 or 94.21% of all surveyed said that when they needed to sit down, they were “unable to locate a bench.”

*Emergency hospital room visits cost $3,700. per visit & used an average five X per year.

House the Homeless wishes to respond to the health needs expressed by people experiencing homelessness in the above 2010 Health Survey and the need to sit down when necessary.

Presently, the No Sitting/No Lying Down Ordinance forbids sitting in the downtown area with the only health exceptions being for people relegated to wheel-chairs. However, there are other people with significant health issues who should also be exempted from the ordinance.

House the Homeless has taken these concerns to Council Members Mike Martinez, Laura Morrisson and Randi Shade. On April 8th they will present a Resolution to send this issue to the Health and Human Services Committee. That Committee will then send recommendations regarding this matter back to the City Council. The process should take 60 days.

Whereas, 501 people experiencing homelessness were surveyed by HTH on January 1, 2010 exposing the fact that 241 of them have dire health conditions severe enough to keep them from working ranging from degenerative nerve disease to bone cancer to debilitating, chronic back pain, and

Whereas, 145 of them expressed severe shortness of breath, and

Whereas, 472 of the 501 surveyed stated that when they needed to sit down, they were unable to locate a bench.

THEREFORE, exemptions should be permitted allowing persons with disabilities to sit down without fear of reprisal or of being ticketed when presenting any of the following documents-

-A Mobility Impaired Bus Pass
-Documentation of Hospital Care within the previous two weeks
-Documentation of Food Stamp Work exemption (for health issues)
-An Award letter from the Social Security Administration for Disability
-Documentation of Recuperative-Care within the previous two weeks
-A doctor’s note of disability
-A Letter of disability from DARS (Dept. of Assistive Rehab. Services)
-A letter of participation at the David Powell Health Clinic (AIDS/HIV)
-A letter of participation from the Community Court for Court Ordered Substance Abuse Treatment Program
-A letter of participation with the Austin Recovery Center, ARC, Substance Abuse Treat Ctr
-Evidence of participation in a Physical or Occupational Therapy Program
-People in line for any Health Clinic
-People using canes, crutches, or walkers
– Official documentation that they have applied for disability benefits before the Veterans Administration
– Official documentation that they have applied for disability benefits before the Social Security Administration
-Award letter of disability from the Veterans Administration

Note.* This survey, at the urging of House The Homeless, has resulted in the passage of a unanimous COA City Council resolution calling for consideration of the 16 exceptions identified by HTH to be sent to the City Council Health and Human Services Committee. Benches and exceptions to the ordinance are to be considered in the report due back to council by June 2010. The Health Survey is now being conducted in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia by the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Finally, a smoking succession program is being considered in Austin.