A new study provides the first detailed look at mortality rates among Toronto's homeless. The findings paint a grim picture of life on the streets for homeless men.

Researchers at Toronto's St. Michael's hospital studied 9,000 homeless men for more than two years. Two hundred of them died during that time a death rate up to eight times that of men living in stable housing.

In that group of deaths, it was determined:

  • younger men tended to die from accidents, drug overdoses, suicide
  • men in their middle years died from those same causes, and AIDS
  • older men died of cancer, heart disease, strokes

The average age at death was 46.

Dr. Stephen Hwang was one of the researchers. He says, "Homeless men seem to develop the diseases of old age at a much younger age than usual."

Although the death rate among Toronto's homeless is high, it is still 40 per cent lower than in American cities like New York where many homeless are murdered or die of AIDS.

The federal government has promised more money for housing, but so far it hasn't delivered.

Advocates who say 19 homeless people have died in Toronto so far this year, are holding a protest Wednesday, demanding the government take action.

There are an estimated 50,000 homeless people living in Toronto.