15 States With the Largest Homeless Populations

homeless sleeping on bench
Srdjan Randjelovic / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on Porch.

On any given night during the cold month of January, over 568,000 people experience the fear and discomfort of homelessness.

While homelessness rates fell between 2007 and 2019, the problem has started to increase again. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in 2017, the U.S. began seeing a rise in homelessness year over year for the first time since the most devastating part of the housing crisis in 2010.

Homelessness also has a disproportionate effect across the nation. California, for example, saw a substantial 16% increase in 2019 over 2018. Cities also seem to struggle the most with a lack of housing for the most vulnerable. More than half of all homeless people (53%) are in the 50 largest U.S. cities.

While these numbers are alarming, they likely understate the true size of the problem. The very nature of the stigma around homelessness makes people less likely to report how insecure their housing is.

To identify the states with the largest homeless populations, researchers at Porch analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Using these statistics, they calculated the total homeless population per 10,000 residents. The researchers also incorporated data on the homeless population in families with children, those without shelter, and those who are considered chronically homeless.

Nationwide, there are over 560,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night (a per capita rate of 17.3 per 10,000). Of those, 37.2% live outside of shelters (such as on the streets, in cars, or in parks) and 18.6% are considered chronically homeless.

Keep reading to see which states have the largest homeless populations.

15. Florida

Rudy Umans / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 13.2
  • Total homeless population: 28,328
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 21,265
  • Homeless population in families with children: 7,063
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 44.0%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 20.2%

14. Arizona

Aerial view of Scottsdale Arizona
Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 13.7
  • Total homeless population: 10,007
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 7,538
  • Homeless population in families with children: 2,469
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 45.3%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 18.7%

13. Minnesota

Sam Wagner / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 14.1
  • Total homeless population: 7,977
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 4,586
  • Homeless population in families with children: 3,391
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 20.7%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 21.9%

12. New Mexico

New Mexico
turtix / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 15.5
  • Total homeless population: 3,241
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 2,464
  • Homeless population in families with children: 777
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 38.8%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 44.9%

11. Maine

Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 15.7
  • Total homeless population: 2,106
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 1,232
  • Homeless population in families with children: 874
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 4.5%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 10.7%

10. Colorado

Tang Yan Song / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 16.7
  • Total homeless population: 9,619
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 7,263
  • Homeless population in families with children: 2,356
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 22.7%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 22.7%

9. Vermont

jiawangkun / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 17.5
  • Total homeless population: 1,089
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 681
  • Homeless population in families with children: 408
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 10.5%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 17.4%

8. Nevada

Las Vegas homes
trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 23.3
  • Total homeless population: 7,169
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 6,614
  • Homeless population in families with children: 555
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 53.1%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 10.0%

7. Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 26.1
  • Total homeless population: 1,907
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 1,384
  • Homeless population in families with children: 523
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 14.3%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 14.1%

6. Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 26.8
  • Total homeless population: 18,471
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 6,259
  • Homeless population in families with children: 12,212
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 4.5%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 12.8%

5. Washington

oksana perkins / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 28.3
  • Total homeless population: 21,577
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 15,985
  • Homeless population in families with children: 5,592
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 44.3%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 22.6%

4. Oregon

Portland, Oregon
photomatz / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 37.6
  • Total homeless population: 15,876
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 12,354
  • Homeless population in families with children: 3,522
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 63.9%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 30.9%

3. California

Oakland, California
EddieHernandezPhotography / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 38.3
  • Total homeless population: 151,278
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 128,777
  • Homeless population in families with children: 22,501
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 71.7%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 27.5%

2. Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii
MNStudio / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 45.3
  • Total homeless population: 6,412
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 4,420
  • Homeless population in families with children: 1,992
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 56.8%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 27.6%

1. New York

New York City
Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock.com
  • Total homeless population per 10,000: 47.3
  • Total homeless population: 92,091
  • Homeless individuals (not in families with children): 42,113
  • Homeless population in families with children: 49,978
  • Percentage of homeless population living unsheltered: 4.4%
  • Percentage of homeless population chronically homeless: 7.8%

Methodology

homeless tent city
mikeledray / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The estimates offer a snapshot of homelessness — both sheltered and unsheltered — on a single night at the beginning of the year.

For the purpose of this analysis, homelessness describes a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Unsheltered homelessness refers to people whose usual nighttime residence is not designated, or typically used, for sleeping (e.g. the streets, vehicles, parks, etc.). Chronic homelessness describes those who have been continuously homeless for a year or more or have experienced more than four homeless episodes (with a combined total of at least one year) in the past three years.

To identify the states with the largest homeless populations, researchers calculated the total homeless population per 10,000 residents. In the event of a tie, the state with the larger total homeless population was ranked above.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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