Prevalence and Covariates of Food Insecurity Among Residents of Single-room Occupancy Housing in Chicago, IL, USA

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Graduate School of Social Work


Disability, Food insecurity, Homeless, Social determinants of health, Single-room occupancy



Emerging evidence suggests that food insecurity is a significant public health concern among people who are homeless or marginally housed. The present study assessed prevalence of food insecurity and its covariates among a group of marginally housed individuals living in single-room occupancy (SRO) dwellings, a population for which there is little extant health or nutrition research. Design

Cross-sectional survey incorporating the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. Setting

Ten private SRO residences in the Uptown neighbourhood of Chicago, IL, USA, 2013. Subjects

SRO residents over 18 years of age who were able to communicate verbally in English (n 153). Results

Food insecurity was widespread among SRO residents, with 75 % of the sample considered food insecure and 52 % meeting criteria for severe food insecurity. Bivariate analyses indicated that female gender, eating most meals at a soup kitchen, having a mental health condition, problem drinking, having at least one chronic health condition, and diabetes were all significantly associated with food insecurity. In the multivariate ordered logistic regression model, eating most meals at a soup kitchen remained as the only significant correlate of food insecurity (OR=10·13). Conclusions

SRO residents and other marginally housed populations face unique food access challenges. Although targeted assistance in the form of food stamps and congregate meal programmes remains critical, efforts to prevent and address food insecurity among homeless and marginally housed individuals should include policy interventions that recognize poverty as the root cause of food insecurity and aim to increase overall income and improve housing conditions.

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