Judith Hahn et al published a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, summarized in a local newspaper based on a fourteen year study of homeless in San Francisco. The sample was over 3,500 interviews. The findings were checked against other urban areas. Conclusion: most people who are homeless stay homeless indefinitely.
I created a park for San Francisco street people in 1979 (6th and Minna). “Wino Park” as it was affectionately known, was built before the absurd term “homeless” migrated from New York. I can assure my readers that most of the street people I knew, a quarter of a century ago, are either still homeless in San Francisco or dead.
There were only three kinds of people in the population, I doubt that it has changed. One was short timers, a week or a couple of weeks on the street, usually men from the suburbs expiating some demon they had encountered in their lives. The second group were those who were on the street for years and left the street population for some strong personal reason. Example: Herman, a former jazz musician, all around wonderful guy, who got an apartment and sobered-up after his sister died from her drunken life in the streets.
The third group, the remaining vast majority, were perfectly content with their lives on the street and wanted to be left alone, outside of society. They appreciated the kindness of a clean bathroom, personal safety, a shower and the abundant food that was available. But they didn’t want to be sober, straight or cogs in the social wheel.
Most of the people I knew on the street are still around. The bleeding heart Lefties were trying to convert them to striving Americans, with full membership in society in 1979...and they are still trying.