Homelessness in Europe and the United States: a comparison of prevalence and public opinion

Paul A. Toro, Carolyn J. Tompsett, Sylvie Lombardo, Pierre Philippot, Hilde Nachtergael, Benoit Galand, Natascha Schlienz, Nadine Stammel, Yanélia Yabar, Marc Blune, Linda Mackay, Kate Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Random samples of 250–435 adults were interviewed by telephone in five different nations (N= 1,546): Belgium, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the United States. The interview included questions on respondent attitudes, knowledge, and opinions regarding homelessness; respondents' own personal experiences with homelessness and homeless people; and demographic characteristics of the respondents. The highest rates for lifetime literal homelessness were found in the UK (7.7%) and United States (6.2%), with the lowest rate in Germany (2.4%), and intermediate rates in Italy (4.0%) and Belgium (3.4%). Less compassionate attitudes toward the homeless were also found on many dimensions in the United States and the UK. Possible explanations of these findings, drawn from various theoretical perspectives, and policy implications are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-524
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number3
Early online date13 Aug 2007
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2007


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