38 Distressing Homelessness Statistics

It is possible to become homeless for a wide variety of reasons. The reasons may vary, but the most common circumstance which causes someone to become homeless is the lack of affordable housing. Urban areas offer affordable housing with extreme scarcity, which is why homelessness tends to be more prevalent in cities compared to rural or suburban areas.

Although there is a negative stigma that is often attached to those who are homeless, only 15% of the actual population is considered chronically homeless. In the United States, that means about 83,000 people are continuously experiencing homelessness. Another 2%, or about 13,000 people, are chronically homeless with a family.

Several societal issues help to contribute to homelessness. Poverty is almost as influential as the lack of affordable housing when it comes to being homeless. There are mental health concerns which remain unaddressed in the homeless population. Certain disabilities can contribute to homelessness.

There are even specific groups which are more likely to become homeless than the general population. Those who are most at-risk are often veterans and teenage LGBTQIA+ individuals.

By knowing these homelessness statistics, we all can begin to be the change that we need to see in the world today.

Statistics About Homelessness

1. In the United States, about 8% of the people who are homeless on any given night are veterans. This means about 48,000 people on the streets tonight served with the US military at some point in their lives. (Point in Time)

2. About 40% of those who are homeless on any given night are people in families. (Point in Time)

3. 25% of those who are homeless suffer from at least one mental illness that may or may not have been given a diagnosis. The most common illnesses that are seen in the homeless population are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. (Green Doors)

4. 13% of those who are currently homeless on any given night in the United States are fleeing some form of domestic violence. (Green Doors)

5. About 6.8 million people are not classified as homeless, but live in a situation where they are “doubling up” with someone else. Since 2005, that number has increased by at least 50%. This means that an individual or family does not have a home of their own, so they are living with other family, some friends, or even a non-relative for specific economic reasons. (Green Doors)

6. 1.4 million veterans are currently at risk of becoming homeless in the near future. PTSD, TBI, and mental illness are the leading factors that can cause a veteran to be at a higher risk of homelessness. Veterans who served in Vietnam or immediately afterward are currently believed to be at the highest risk of homelessness. (Social Solutions)

7. 1 in 5 homeless youth on the street on any given night identifies as being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This is double the general youth population which identifies in this way. (National Coalition for the Homeless)

8. LGBTQIA+ youth are two times more likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12 compared to other youth who are homeless. (National Coalition for the Homeless)

9. The primary reason why homeless youth are not living at home or with family is because they are fleeing a severe family conflict. (National Coalition for the Homeless)

10. LGBTQIA+ youth, who were once homeless, are still at a higher risk of suffering from future victimization, suffering mental health problems, or being engaged in unhealthy intimate practices. More than 58% of LGBTQIA+ homeless youth have been sexually victimized, compared to 33% of heterosexual homeless youth. (National Coalition for the Homeless)

11. LGBTQIA+ youth commit suicide at a rate of 62%. (National Coalition for the Homeless)

12. 91% of homeless veterans are male. 98% of them are single and 3 out of every 4 of them will live in a city. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

13. Since 2009, the number of veterans that are counted on during nightly checks has decreased by more than 67%. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

14. 54% of veterans who are homeless have at least one mental or physical disability. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

15. Black/African-American veterans are substantially overrepresented among homeless veterans, accounting for 39% of the total population. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

16. 43% of homeless veterans are between the ages of 51-61. In the next 10-15 years, the number of homeless veterans is expected to rise dramatically because of the various operations that have been conducted in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

17. 25% of LGBTQIA+ youth who are homeless are thrown out of their homes. Half of all teens who identify with this community say that they receive a negative reaction from their sexual orientation or gender identity from their families. (True Colors Fund)

18. About 1.7 million adolescents experienced at least one episode of homelessness each year. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

19. Up to 36% of LGBTQIA+ youth who are emancipated foster care youth will report being homeless at least once after their discharge from care. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

20. A national shortage of youth shelters and housing programs in the US results in many youth being denied the assistance they need. It would take just $140 million to solve this problem, creating resources for up to 200,000 homeless youth in terms of crisis intervention. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

21. About 830,000 year-round beds are available in various housing projects in the United States right now. Only half of those beds are dedicated to people who are currently experiencing homelessness. (Social Solutions)

22. An estimated 100 million people are believed to be homeless around the world, though the last major survey on global homelessness was conducted in 2005. (United Nations)

23. Up to 1.6 billion people lack some form of adequate housing. (Habitat for Humanity)

24. About 2 million kids in the United States will face at least one period of homelessness over the course of any given year. (Covenant House Institute)

25. 57% of the kids who are homeless in the United States will spend at least one day per month without any food. (Covenant House Institute)

26. Up to 20,000 American kids who are homeless are forced into prostitution by human trafficking networks every year. (Covenant House Institute)

27. Almost 40% of the homeless in the United States are under the age of 17. (Covenant House Institute)

28. 41% of kids who are homeless have witnessed at least one act of violence in their homes. Another 36% of kids who are homeless reports that at least one person in their family was using drugs on a regular basis. (Covenant House Institute)

29. 15% of homeless youth report that someone who was closed to them had been murdered. (Covenant House Institute)

30. 1 in 5 homeless youth report being beaten with an object at least once. The same number of homeless youth report enduring sexual abuse. (Covenant House Institute)

31. In 1967, a year-round worker earning the minimum wage was paid enough to raise a family of three above the poverty line. From 1981-1990, the minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 per hour, yet the cost of living increased by 48% over the same period of time. The minimum wage wouldn’t be increased to $5.15 per hour until 1996. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

32. The majority of minimum wage workers are not teenagers. 79% of minimum wage workers are 20 or older. (Economic Policy Institute)

33. In the average state in the US, a minimum-wage worker would need to work 87 hours per week in order to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at 30% of their income. The 30% level is considered to be affordable housing. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

34. 40% of households have at least one working person, which means half of their income goes directly to rent and they may be living in severely substandard housing. More than 6 million households are living this way in the United States. (HUD)

35. A survey of 23 US cities found that 11 of them reported an increase in the number of employed homeless individuals. One city reported a decrease, while 7 reported no change from the previous year. (US Conference of Mayors)

36. In 1997, about 30% of workers were employed in a non-standard work arrangement, such as day labor, independent contracting, or regular part-time employment. Since 1972, temporary employment has increased by 11%. These jobs offer lower wages, fewer benefits, and less overall financial security. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

37. 44% of people who are homeless and have jobs cannot escape their circumstances. Barriers such as limited transportation and reduced access to training programs makes it difficult to obtain a job or seek advancement opportunities. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

38. In 2006, 3.4% of the homeless population was diagnosed as being HIV-positive. This is compared to the 0.4% diagnosis rate in the general population. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

These homelessness statistics have improved over the last 10 years, but there is still much work that needs to be done. Instead of thinking of the help being offered as a handout, it will often be treated as a hand up. Offer that helping hand today.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.