Homeless People in León (Nicaragua): Conceptualizing and Measuring Homelessness in a Developing Country

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Abstract

Homelessness is a global phenomenon that affects groups in situations of poverty and social exclusion, in both developed and developing nations. However, the scientific literature on homeless people in developing countries is scant. This work shows the difficulties defining homelessness and examines the necessary criteria for who will be deemed a homeless person in a developing country. Furthermore, the results of the Point-In-Time (PIT) count of homeless people—a measure of the number of homeless people on a specific day—done in the city of León, Nicaragua (population: 185,000). Throughout the PIT count, 82 unduplicated people living in homelessness were tallied (76% male, 23% female), of which 47 answered a questionnaire. Most of the homeless people in León are male, mestizo, of Nicaraguan nationality, with a primary level education or less, and in a situation of chronic homelessness. Results showed a mean age of 47 years for these individuals. Most of the homeless people showed a bad physical appearance, had poor personal hygiene, and wore dirty clothing. Around half of the homeless observed seemed to have problems related to mental health, alcohol, and/or drugs.

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