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There have always been homeless people in the United States, but their plight has only recently stirred widespread public reaction and concern. Part of this new recognition stems from the problem's prevalence: the number of homeless individuals, while hard to pin down exactly, is rising. In light of this, Congress asked the Institute of Medicine to find out whether existing health care programs were ignoring the homeless or delivering care to them inefficiently. This book is the report prepared by a committee of experts who examined these problems through visits to city slums and impoverished rural areas, and through an analysis of papers written by leading scholars in the field.