A public opinion survey was administered by telephone to nationally representative samples in the US and Germany to assess prevalence of homelessness as well as attitudes, opinions and knowledge regarding homelessness. Lower prevalence rates were found in Germany as compared with the US. German respondents demonstrated higher levels of general compassion, greater support for the public rights of the homeless, a greater tendency to view the homeless as trustworthy, and were more likely to view economic factors and less likely to view personal failings as integral to the problem of homelessness. Respondent age, gender, and political affiliation predicted many public opinion variables. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.