Data from 1,000 most populated cities (estimated for 2016) was merged with the latest “Point-in-Time” (PIT) estimates from all “Continuum of Care”—non-profit programs working with federal and local government to curtail and aid the homeless—listed on the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Exchange. The aggregate homelessness statistics provided by 399 CoC cover all 50 states, District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Top 30 cities by population were mapped with homelessness figures to build a table of metrics. The most populated metros face proportionally larger challenges in addressing homelessness.
About 45% of unsheltered homeless are estimated to be within the 30 most populated cities, yet these municipalities and counties make up less than 13% of the U.S. population and only 0.3% of the continental land mass, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Based on HUD’s definition of homeless (last updated in 2008):
• Unsheltered homeless are persons residing in a place not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, or on the street.
• Sheltered homeless are persons residing in an emergency shelter, including temporary emergency shelters only open during severe weather. And transitional housing for homeless people who come from the streets or emergency shelters.
The top 30 metropolises…
• Are 50 times more densely populated than all 50 states and D.C. combined.
• With 3.6 times more unsheltered homeless per 100k residents than the national average.
• And have 178 times more unsheltered homeless by area than the U.S. as a whole.
Having moved from northern New Jersey, near New York City, to Seattle in 2014, the relative ubiquity of homeless people in the “Emerald City” (of the Pacific Northwest) is palpable and disheartening. [This was also the case upon visiting San Diego and San Francisco]. Seattle is ranked 18th by population and 3rd among CoC based on unsheltered homeless. Compared with New York City…
• NYC is about 3.3 times larger in square miles than Seattle.
• NYC is roughly 3.7 times more densely populated than Seattle.
• 47% of Seattle’s homeless are unsheltered (living on the streets or in wooded areas, with and without tents) compared with only 5% in NYC.
• Seattle has 17 times more unsheltered homeless per 100k residents than NYC.
• Seattle has 4.6 times more unsheltered homeless per square mile than NYC.
2017 marked the first year overall homeless figures rose since 2007—based on PIT estimates, provided by CoC and compiled by HUD. Overall, homelessness increased from 549,928 in 2016 to 553,742 or by 0.7%. The greater concern is the growing number of unsheltered homeless which jumped by 9.4% from 176,357 to 192,875, while sheltered homeless dropped from 373,571 in 2016 to 360,867 in 2017.
Top 1,000 Nationwide – 2017 Population Data: https://www.biggestuscities.com/
HUD Exchange: Resources: PIT and HIC Data Since 2007: https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/3031/pit-and-hic-data-since-2007/
“Metro or Continent square miles”: Bing search / Wikipedia source
Definition: Unsheltered Homeless: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/counting_unsheltered.pdf