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Male Homelessness

November 11, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Jill Barnas

Executive Summary

Homelessness is defined as when an individual lacks a fixed nighttime residency. While any individual can experience homelessness, it is commonly reported that the homeless population mostly consists of single males. A combination of structural or situational changes (e.g., economic recession, high unemployment rates, housing costs), societal perceptions, and various personal circumstances (e.g., mental health, substance abuse, incarceration) can add degrees of complexity to a homeless individual’s situation. Efforts to help people who are homeless may involve providing resources beyond housing, such as supporting community integration and workforce participation.


  • Statewide, 55.8% of homeless persons are men. However, this proportion varies depending on the geographical area.
  • Mental health and substance abuse disorders affect 20% of Missourians experiencing homelessness.
  • There is a link between homelessness and incarceration; homeless individuals are more likely to be repeat offenders for low-level offenses.
  • Service programs that emphasize housing and employment have the potential to reduce homelessness and break the homelessness-jail cycle while reducing taxpayer burdens for associated services such as emergency room visits.


  • Existing data provides a snapshot of people experiencing homelessness and does not capture everybody who experienced homelessness over the course of a year. 
    • The 2020 Report for the Balance of State Continuum of Care gives insight to the demographics of rural homelessness, accounting for only 24% of the homeless population. Most recent reports for the remaining seven Continuum of Cares are not yet available.
    • These data were collected in January 2020, the coldest time of the year, to be a conservative estimate of those who are homeless with no other housing options.
      • These data were collected before COVID-19 was declared a national public health emergency. The data presented does not reflect potential housing changes caused by the pandemic.
  • These data do not provide statistics that combine multiple demographic categories, such  as race and gender. It is not possible to conclude which subgroups are most affected by homelessness (e.g., black males) in Missouri beyond either race or gender.
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