Acknowledging the homeless who are not mentally ill in the context of medicalized housing assistance

Curtis Smith, University of Texas at El Paso


This thesis describes the homeless population in El Paso, Texas, and discusses data coming from an adaptation of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) point-in-time (PIT) survey methodology. It improves on previous methods used in homeless counts while allowing social science students to participate in hands-on training. Surveys were collected in "traditional homeless spaces," using convenience sample methods as well as in non-traditional spaces where homeless Hispanics were believed to be more heavily represented. Additionally, snowball techniques were used to find and survey marginally-housed individuals. The number of homeless individuals surveyed exceeded that of the official El Paso PIT count of the homeless (676 N), which demonstrates the possibility of employing and further developing the methodologies used in future studies of the homeless population. We also measured varying degrees of mental illness among the homeless population, using novel methods that challenge current homeless census. The results of the study demonstrate a wide range of factors experienced by and affecting the homeless population in this border region.^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Cultural|Sociology, General

Recommended Citation

Smith, Curtis, "Acknowledging the homeless who are not mentally ill in the context of medicalized housing assistance" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1557793.