CDC awards Mizzou $1.6 million grant

Grant will be used to study firearm violence exposure among young adults experiencing homelessness.

Sept. 1, 2022
Contact: Pate McCuien,, 573-882-4870

Hsun-Ta Hsu is no stranger to the challenges faced by young adults experiencing homeless.

In a previous study for the University of Missouri, Hsu, an associate professor in the School of Social Work was shocked by the number of encounters homeless young adults reported having with firearms —about 40% of participants in his study reported being the victim or the perpetrator of firearm violence.

Hsun-Ta Hsu's research focuses on understanding and addressing health-related needs of homeless populations.

Now, Hsu and his research team can take their firearm violence prevention work a step further thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The team will use the grant to study the firearm violence exposure among young adults experiencing homelessness and how communities can best intervene.

“What we’ve found is that firearm violence prevention programs across the country clearly are not built to support this [homeless] population,” Hsu said. “They don’t have a safe place to go, so we are going to set out to answer the question, ‘how do we decrease firearm exposure among young adults experiencing homelessness?”

Hsu will use the funds to survey young adults, ages 18-24, in homeless “drop-in” centers in St. Louis and Los Angeles. Participants will be asked about their recent interactions with firearms, demographic information and where they tend to congregate at night and during the day. Researchers will then use Google Street View to virtually tour those hangout areas and learn more about how young adults are encountering firearms.

During his previous study with homeless young adults, Hsu collaborated with scholars from seven different cities in the United States.

“We found that young adults dealing with homelessness encountered firearms — both as the perpetrator and as the victim — much more consistently compared to most people in the general public,” he said. “We even found consistent firearm carry and victimization regardless of the state or city or their firearm policies.”

Hsu said receiving the grant from the CDC is an honor, and he will use the funding to study the issue of firearm violence among homeless young adults from a more comprehensive perspective.

“I’m very excited, and I’m really glad that resources are available to study firearm violence,” he said. “I believe with this type of funding we can look at firearm violence from different levels — from the community level, the social-network level and even the individual level.”

This research will be funded by the CDC.

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