Many people living on the street have at least three chronic illnesses besides their mental health problems and learning disabilities.
Jean Hughes, a registered nurse with the school of nursing at Dalhousie University, said the combination makes survival on the streets even more challenging.
“We’re only as healthy in our community as the people who are the most disadvantaged,” she said. “Our city has a lot to think about because if we want to have a healthy community, everybody needs to be healthy.”
Yesterday Hughes pulled out some of the findings of the Halifax Street Health Report, a survey of 158 homeless people conducted earlier this year.
Half of the people surveyed, which included youth and adults, reported a major mental health problem, and most reported three chronic illnesses such as vision, hearing or mobility problems.
“If you can imagine living with three chronic health conditions while you’re housed, imagine what it’s like if you’re not housed,” Hughes said. “That’s a major challenge to survive in our city. We’ve got a whole lot of challenges but it’s something our city can do something about.”