Young adults living in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels, a form of low-income housing, are known to have complex health and substance problems compared to their peers in the general population. The objective of this study is to comprehensively describe the mental, physical, and social health profile of young adults living in SROs.
This study reports baseline data from young adults aged 18–29 years, as part of a prospective cohort study of adults living in SROs in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Baseline and follow-up data were collected from 101 young adults (median follow-up period 1.9 years [IQR 1.0–3.1]). The comprehensive assessment included laboratory tests, neuroimaging, and clinician- and patient-reported measures of mental, physical, and social health and functioning.
Three youth died during the preliminary follow-up period, translating into a higher than average mortality rate (18.6, 95% CI 6.0, 57.2) compared to age- and sex-matched Canadians. High prevalence of interactions with the health, social, and justice systems was reported. Participants were living with median two co-occurring illnesses, including mental, neurological, and infectious diseases. Greater number of multimorbid illnesses was associated with poorer real-world functioning (ρ = − 0.373, p < 0.001). All participants reported lifetime alcohol and cannabis use, with pervasive use of stimulants and opioids. Conclusion This study reports high mortality rates, multimorbid illnesses, poor functioning, poverty, and ongoing unmet mental health needs among young adults living in SROs. Frequent interactions with the health, social, and justice systems suggest important points of intervention to improve health and functional trajectories of this vulnerable population.