Research Brief| Volume 61, ISSUE 4, P585-590, October 2021

Understanding the Correlates of Firearm Violence Involvement Among Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness: A 7-City Study


      Young adults experiencing homelessness are vulnerable to firearm violence. This study aims to explore the correlates of firearm violence involvement among this vulnerable population, which may inform firearm violence reduction intervention development.


      Between 2016 and 2017, young adults experiencing homelessness aged 18–26 years (N=1,426) were recruited in 7 U.S. cities. Respondents completed a self-administered computer-assisted anonymous survey regarding their homeless experiences and violence involvement. Separate multivariate logistic regression models were conducted in 2020 to explore the correlates of direct firearm violence victimization, witness of firearm violence, and firearm violence perpetration.


      A high proportion of young adults experiencing homelessness were involved in firearm violence (witnessing firearm violence: 40%; direct firearm violence victimization: 28%; perpetration: 18%). Stressful experiences, such as childhood trauma and street victimization, were associated with greater odds of firearm violence involvement. Black (OR=2.4, p<0.001) and Latinx (OR=2.0, p<0.05) young adults had greater odds of experiencing direct firearm violence victimization than White young adults. Black (OR=2.0, p<0.01) and Latinx (OR=2.4, p<0.001) young adults were also at greater risk of witnessing firearm violence. Young adults with mental illness had greater odds of being directly victimized by firearm violence (OR=1.7, p<0.01).


      Given the inter-related nature of firearm violence involvement and given that risk factors for violence are often embedded in social and structural contexts, multipronged community-based approaches to prevent firearm violence among young adults experiencing homelessness are necessary. Targeted efforts may be indicated to attenuate the risk and promote resilience among subgroups of young adults experiencing homelessness who are disproportionately affected by firearm violence.
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