NCHHSTP Social Determinants of Health

Public Health and Homelessness

Homelessness in the 21st century is an ongoing problem, increasing due to the country’s recent economic downturn, especially in urban areas. This video podcast discusses how homelessness impacts health and what public health professionals can do about it.

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age1 as well as the complex, interrelated social structures and economic systems that shape these conditions.2 Social determinants of health include aspects of the social environment (e.g., discrimination, income, education level, marital status), the physical environment (e.g., place of residence, crowding conditions, built environment [i.e., buildings, spaces, transportation systems, and products that are created or modified by people]), and health services (e.g., access to and quality of care, insurance status).2

Social determinants of health are linked to a lack of opportunity and to a lack of resources to protect, improve, and maintain health,2 and taken together, these factors are mostly responsible for health inequities—the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between populations.1 NCHHSTP is committed to promoting awareness, engagement, and action on the many factors that can affect the health of all persons, and to addressing these factors in our policy, practice, research, and partnership activities.2

Page last reviewed: December 19, 2019