HTH Health Survey Results 2010

by | Mar 16, 2010 | Uncategorized

by Richard R. Troxell

Once again, House the Homeless has conducted a survey of people experiencing Homelessness.  This brief survey focuses on core health issues.  The survey was conducted at the 9th Annual House the Homeless, Thermal Underwear Give Away Party conducted January 1st 2010 in Austin Texas.

 These are the results of the House the Homeless health survey conducted at the 9th annual House the Homeless Thermal Underwear Give Away Party.  We interviewed 501 people experiencing homelessness.  We found the results a bit shocking and very pointed.  We have sent the results and suggestions with recommended changes to Michael Stoops where he will adapt for AmeriCorp survey in Florida and Georgia. 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) lay the ground work for a possible ADA lawsuit.

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

                              Hodgkins          1

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

            Debilitating Chronic Back Pain                                             21

Debilitating Chronic Knee Pain                                             14

COPD                                                                                      11

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)                                 9

Asthma                                                                                    8

            ADHD                                                                                     6

            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

ADD                                                                                        2

Intestinal Hernia – Massive                                                    2

GERD                                                                                     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        



On January 1st, 2010 at the 9th Annual House the Homeless Thermal Underwear Party, members of House the Homeless surveyed all  event participants by providing each person with

a confidential questionnaire while they waited in line for the event to begin.  501 surveys were successfully completed while 12 were rejected  as unintelligible.


1)         How long have you been  homeless?

2)         Need to box together the questions:  Do you have seizures?   and  Do you ever lose

            control?  Otherwise, people are marking that they loose control while not alleging          

that they are having seizures.

3)         Need to flesh out the alcohol question.


      When was your last drink?

      How many beers/wine, hard drinks did you have?

      Did you drink most every day?

      Out of the last seven days, how many days did you have drinks (beer/wine or hard

      liquor?  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

      If you had more money, would you have drunk more?  Yes/No


4)         Do you have a criminal background that is keeping you from working?


  •    To obtain the greatest percent response to each question it is recommended that all surveys are administered by an interviewer on a one-to-one basis.
  •  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.”

March 2010 Action Response to the 2010 House the Homeless Health Survey, above, Addressing Necessary Exceptions to the City of Austin No Sitting/Lying Down Ordinance  by Richard R. Troxell

House the Homeless wishes to respond to the health needs expressed by people experiencing homelessness in the 2010 Health Survey to sit down when necessary.  We have sent the following recommendations to the Austin City Council for recommendation by the Health and Human Services City Council Committee.  We anticipate “consent” passage on April 8th with return and recommendations to Council within 60 days.

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.

Whereas 501 people experiencing homelessness were surveyed 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 when they needed to sit down, they were unable to locate a bench.

Should Therefore be permitted to sit down without fear of reprisal or of being ticketed when presenting any of the following documents or evidence-

-A Mobility Impaired Bus Pass

-Documentation of Hospital Care within the previous two weeks

-Documentation of Food Stamp Work exemption

-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

-A letter of participation at the David Powell Clinic

-A letter of participation f/t Community Court for Court Ordered Substance Abuse Treatment

-A letter of participation with the Austin Recovery Center

-Evidence of participation in a Physical or Occupational Therapy Program

-Any person in line to get health services

-Any person using a cane, crutches, or walker0