In the United States, there are over half a million people experiencing homelessness. These individuals live in a temporary shelter or transitional housing or sleep in a place not meant for habitation (like an abandoned building). The top four causes of homelessness, in order, are: lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, and low wages.
Overall, 66.7% of the total homeless population of the United States is single individuals, with the remaining 33.3% being families. In recent years, homelessness increased nationally by almost one percent. This number comprises unaccompanied children and young adults, single adults experiencing chronic homelessness, and people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Some populations have seen a decrease in homelessness. Dramatic reductions are amongst families and the veteran community.
The state of California currently has the highest homeless population, with about 151,278 homeless people. This is about one-fifth of the total homeless population in the United States. This figure is attributed to issues with providing affordable and adequate housing opportunities, current drug laws, and the inaccessibility of important mental health resources.
Another alarming statistic comes from New York City. In recent years, homelessness in this city reached the highest levels since the Great Depression in the 1930s, reaching its highest point under Mayor Bill de Blasio. However, this year saw the second year in the decline of the homeless or unsheltered population, attributed to the creation of safe havens, or specialized shelters, that have a streamlined process of getting people into permanent housing. As of May 2020, there were 59,308 homeless people in NYC.
The state with the lowest percentage of the homeless population is experiencing an increase as well. Due to an oil and gas boom, North Dakota now has the fastest-growing economy. With this comes a rush of people coming to the state for work, but surging housing prices has made it difficult to find a home. For a state-by-state look at homeless statistics, take a look at the table below. Data from this table was retrieved from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.