This article compares patterns of homeless shelter use in Denmark and the USA. Combining data from homeless shelters in Denmark with population registers, we find that the prevalence of shelter use is substantially lower in Denmark than in the USA. A cluster analysis of shelter stays identifies three types of users similar to findings from US research: the transitionally,
episodically and chronically homeless. However, the transitionally homeless in Denmark have a higher tendency of suffering from mental illness and substance abuse than the transitionally homeless in the USA. The results support Stephens and Fitzpatrick’ hypothesis that countries with more extensive welfare systems and lower levels of poverty have lower levels of homelessness, mainly amongst those with complex support needs, whereas in countries with less extensive welfare
systems homelessness affects broader groups and is more widely associated with poverty and housing affordability problems.