View Full Version : Life expectancy for homeless?

Celia Cyanide
02-21-2006, 10:51 PM
I am writing a story in which a man sees a bag lady, and then sees the same bag lady years later in the same park, and I wondered what her approximate age should be for it to be believable that she is still alive.

02-21-2006, 11:47 PM
Here's a page with questions and answers for one state that you might extrapolate upon to come up with a rough estimate for the country. http://www.simpsonhousing.org/quiz1.htm

02-22-2006, 01:35 AM
I know homeless women from young runaways to very old ladies. the oldest one i just talked to is 68. She just got mugged several weeks ago but refuses to go get help. She has been on the street 22 years.

Another, near where I work, has been walking the same route for at least 15 years. I tried to give her money but she refuses hand-outs. She is content to go from soda machine to phone booth to newspaper dispenser looking for loose change. She does this 2 times a week every week. She is about 65.
I happened to see her coming out of a house one day as i was going to the Historical Society. The house she came out of is on the tax rolls valued at over $1 million.
not all street people are poor. These and others are part of a study i am conducting and the rich bag lady has a spot in one of my books.

i would say around here, South Florida, the median age is mid 40's for various reasons. If you need more facts i will call my friends at the shelter when i donate food. (We have luncheon parties here and always end up with tons extra)

02-23-2006, 01:09 AM
Not sure what part of the world you're intersted in, although judging from the other answers it may be the US. Regardless, you may want to try the United Nations' websites, in particular the UN Human Settlements Programme (which includes the US and W. Eur) at www.unhabitat.org (http://www.unhabitat.org/), and also www.unchs.org (http://www.unchs.org/) . You may also find relevant info on the UNESCO, WHO and/or UNIDO sites, depending on exactly what you're interested in.

This report may have something of interest, although I haven't actually looked through it in much detail: http://www.unhabitat.org/programmes/housingpolicy/documents/HS-599.pdf#search='United%20Nations%20homelessness'

If it doesn't, I'd try getting in touch with the authors or people listed in the report, or with the US UN Information Centre (was called UNIC in the 90's, could be different now though) - they should be based at the UN HQ in New York - they're like a library, and should be able to answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

If, by any chance, you're interested in other countries besides the US or W. Europe, you may want to try the Development Banks (African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, etc - a simple google on those names will get you there).

Hope that helps

Tish Davidson
02-23-2006, 01:22 AM
A lot depends too on whether the homeless person has an alcohol or drug addiction or an untreated medical problem liked diabetes. I think age is not really an issue.

02-23-2006, 01:22 PM
A lot depends too on whether the homeless person has an alcohol or drug addiction or an untreated medical problem liked diabetes. I think age is not really an issue.

Judging only by stats from our largest city, that's pretty much right. Age is seldom an issue. Drugs, alcohol, and untreated medical probelms are the big killers. But there's also a greater danger of freezing to death in northern cities, or of being killed by a mugger or the like. And malnutrition can often be a problem. So on average homeless people do not live as long, but any individual homeless person can live as long as anyone else, and are often on the streets for decades.