Homelessness Facts

27 Homelessness Facts & Statistics

Homelessness is not just a housing problem for the poor. Housing and Urban Development should be the concern of all individuals. As the homelessness facts below demonstrate, all forms of homelessness can cause post-traumatic stress disorder and damage people's health and well-being immediately and over the long term. Crucially homelessness can stop those affected from achieving their potential. 

General facts about the homelessness

Homelessness causes a range of issues - fact.
Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash

#1- About 1.6 billion people worldwide live in inadequate housing conditions1 

This global survey by the United Nations shows that the homeless population includes the most obvious conditions of homelessness: living in shelters and those receiving government aid.

However, homelessness statistics also consider those who stay in inadequate settlements such as slums, squatting in structures not intended for housing, couch-surfing with friends and family, and those who relocate frequently.

Related: Find out and why to become a homeless shelter volunteer for information on how you can do your bit to help out.

#2- 15 million people worldwide are forcefully evicted every year1 

Every year, millions of people worldwide experience forceful evictions due to high housing costs or other issues. This is a gross violation of human rights, often leaving them homeless, landless, and living in extreme poverty and deprivation.

Forced evictions can result in severe trauma and set back even further the lives of vulnerable people. As a result of evictions, family homelessness can further impact children, their education, and their mental health.

#4- 50% of homeless people in America are unsheltered2 

In cities like New York, people experiencing homelessness in America live in shelters, transitional housing programs, or streets. You can also find chronic family homelessness in locations not meant for human habitation.  

#5- In 2019, seventeen out of every 10,000 people in the united states were homeless on a single night in January2

The Point-in-Time (PIT) count shows that more sheltered and unsheltered people experienced homelessness on a single night in January. The population count includes any community with people who lack shelter, homeless veterans, adults and children in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night. Homeless counts like PIT happen every other odd-numbered year. 

#6- There were nearly 600,000 homeless people in the US in 20192

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates the homeless population by counting the number of people on the streets and the number of people in homeless shelters on one night each year. More than half a million Americans are homeless, the equivalent of around 0.2% of the entire population.

According to this count, New York City has the most significant number of homeless people in the United States. A lack of affordable housing often results in family homelessness in these urban settings. 

27% of homeless persons in the US are chronically homeless10. Chronically homeless people are defined as people who have been homeless for a year or more or have experienced a combined period of homelessness of at least 12 months over the previous three years. Additionally, more than 10% of people looking for support from the public health system for mental health conditions or substance abuse are homeless.

Homelessness Elsewhere in the World

#7- There are about 4.5 million homeless people in the Philippines3

The Philippines has a fast-growing economy, yet it is experiencing homelessness. Out of a population of 106 million people, 4.5 million of them are homeless. Further, more stand a risk of becoming homeless due to lack of affordable housing, lost jobs, low income, or lack of stability. Domestic violence and loss of home due to a natural disaster also play a role in families with children. 

#8- About 65% of homeless people in the Philippines live in Manila3

Low income makes things difficult for many families in the Philippines, especially those living in Manila, to pay rent. No housing assistance, lack of health care, resources, and domestic violence cause homelessness.

In the Philippines, women and children are in danger of domestic abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. Those women who escape their abusive partners could lose their source of income and have difficulty finding a place to stay. Domestic violence often also results in post-traumatic stress disorder, making it even harder to deal with the accommodation search. 

India

#9- The 2011 census in India counted nearly 450,000 homeless families4

Instead of a decrease in unsheltered homelessness, there is an increase in the homeless population in India. Many people experiencing homelessness live on roadsides, pavements, under flyovers and staircases, on railway platforms, and in the open at or near places of worship.

#10- The 2011 census in India counted over 17 million homeless individuals4

According to this report published by the United Nations, there are 17 million adults and children on Indian streets today, and their numbers are growing fast.

#11- There are 18 million street children in India4

Forty percent of the world's street children are homeless, and the other sixty percent work on the street to support their families.

This is the largest number of street children found anywhere in the world. Family homelessness is widespread in India, especially in urban regions. You will find children from 0 to 14 years old roaming the streets of India, and most of these street children fend for themselves and have no parents. 

#12- In India's capital city, there are over 3 million homeless men and women4

At least one percent of the population of urban India is homeless, and lack of affordable housing, low minimum wage, no job, and other economic issues contribute to the increase in homelessness. 

Homelessness as a result of disaster

#13- In Malawi, around 100,000 people were made homeless by floods in 20155

One hundred seventy people died in the flash flood, increasing Malawi's homeless population. Hundreds of families took shelter in classrooms after raging waters destroyed their homes. 

Africa

#14- About 250,000 people are homeless in Kenya5

Recent facts about homelessness in Kenya show that over 2 million people are now homeless, and about 50% of those people are children. Kenyans who lack the income to pay for housing have contributed to the rise of the homeless population. 

#15- 24.4 million people are homeless in Nigeria5

Insurgency and rapid urban urbanization poverty contribute to the increase in the number of people experiencing transitional homelessness in Nigeria. Data shows that this accounts for roughly 13% of the nation's population. Every day, Nigerians face the risk of becoming homeless. 

Homelessness facts in the UK

Homelessness Facts From UK
Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

#16- In 2016, core homelessness in Great Britain stood at 158,400 households8

At this point, the UK's exit from the European Union may affect homelessness positively or negatively. The risk of homelessness may increase in families with children, and it could also decrease. 

#17- Research estimates that the actual number of core homeless people is 236,0008

Homelessness in Great Britain will continue to rise in the medium term because of the increase in housing market corrections and a less favorable labor market. Family households will experience this more than other individuals. 

#18- Core homelessness in Great Britain increased by 33% overall between 2011 and 20168

Individuals experiencing homelessness increased by 33 percent overall between 2011 and 2016. England had the largest increase with unsuitable temporary accommodation which more than doubled between this period. There was also an increase in England and Wales. Scottishcore homelessness fell slightly.

Homelessness and crime

Facts from Denmark

#19- A study in Denmark showed that 15.6% of individuals who had experienced homelessness had at least one crime victimization incident6

All individuals experiencing homelessness in Denmark have experienced at least one incident of crime. Individuals with both a psychiatric diagnosis and experience of homelessness had the highest risk of violent victimization. 

#20- 5 years after an individual's first homeless shelter contact in Denmark, there was a 23% probability of crime victimization6

Homeless populations suffer a substantially increased risk of crime victimization, highlighting the need for strategic and targeted approaches to prevent homelessness and help people out of homelessness.

#21- The prevalence of assault victimization in Denmark within the past year has been estimated to range from 27% to 52% in homeless populations6

This is because most homeless individuals have complex health problems, including psychiatric disorders and mental illness, and both disorders can lead to an increased risk of victimization. A homeless youth is likely to partake in sexual crime victimization. 

Homelessness Facts from LA

#22- According to an ABC7 analysis of LAPD data, crimes against homeless people in Los Angeles increased by 24% in 20197

There was a 19% increase in serious violent crime against homeless people and a 5% increase in homeless people killed. 

#23- Of all homicides in Los Angeles in 2019, 16% of the victims were homeless7

Most suspects involved in homicides against the homeless were also homeless, and these cases were hardly reported to the police. This makes it difficult to apprehend the suspects if the victims do not report these cases. 

#24- In 2019, there was a 19% increase in serious violent crime against homeless people in Los Angeles7

Lack of affordable housing increases the risk of homelessness. Further, a high crime rate results in homeless individuals both on the receiving end and the perpetrators of such crimes. Los Angeles's homeless population grew by 19 percent, and these numbers are alarming. This city's homeless population has no shelter, is hungry, and can create public health issues. 

#25- There was a 5% increase in homeless people killed in Los Angeles in 20197

On average, nearly three homeless people are dying daily in L.A, double the number of homeless people who died in 2013. Suicide accounts for a small percentage, while homeless individuals killing fellow homeless people accounts for a higher percentage. 

Homelessness future projections 

#26- Homelessness in Great Britain is projected to rise to over 250,000 households by 20308

The number of people sleeping rough will be more than quadruple by 2030 because it is hard to overstate the scale of Britain's current housing problem. More people cannot fend for themselves and their families due to a lack of suitable jobs or housing. 

#27- By 2041, 184,400 households in Greater London are expected to suffer from homelessness8

This is a considerable increase in number when compared with the overall number in Great Britain. This is because of the scarcity of affordable housing in the capital. If effective, the plan to end homelessness will see a reduction in the number of homeless families and individuals. 

#28- 86% of participants in the US who were offered permanent supportive housing remained homed compared to around a third in the control group9

Pin Me:
Pin Image Portrait Homelessness Facts & Statistics
2 National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2020. State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition
10 The 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress (pdf) The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2020
4 Arulmani Thiyagarajan, Sudip Bhattacharya, Kanica Kaushal, 2018. Homelessness: An Emerging Threat
5 Olanrewaju Oladimeji, Bamidele Paul Atiba, Jabu A Mbokazi, Francis Leonard Mpotte Hyera, 2020. The Homeless, Inmates and Refugees in Africa in the Face of COVID-19 Outbreak
8 Crisis UK, 2018. The Plan to End Homelessness. Chapter 5 Projecting homelessness
6 Sandra Feodor Nilsson, Prof Merete Nordentoft, Prof Seena Fazel, Prof Thomas Munk Laursen, 2020. Homelessness and police-recorded crime victimization: a nationwide, register-based cohort study
9 Raven, Maria & Niedzwiecki, Matthew & Kushel, Margot. (2020). A randomized trial of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless persons with high use of publicly funded services. Health services research. 55 Suppl 2. 797-806. 10.1111/1475-6773.13553.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
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