August 27, 2015

Homeless Statistics: 23 Facts to Know Before You Sleep Tonight

Read more about Middle Class House

Learn how many people are homeless in the U.S. and abroad. Read on for the eye-opening statistics and facts — including the number of seniors, veterans and kids without a warm bed to sleep in tonight.

© hernanpc (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr


There are many different paths that can lead to homelessness — a lifetime of mismanaged finances, some serious bad luck, or a mix of bad circumstances. Once someone is homeless, they face an uphill battle to get back on solid ground.

For those of us who have never been homeless, it can be difficult to grasp how serious the issue is. Check out these eye-opening statistics we've gathered on homelessness here at home and around the world.


The first part of our study centers on the prevalence of homelessness in the U.S. We've broken down just how many people are homeless and where they tend to be concentrated.

  1. How many people are homeless in America?
    The Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates the number of homeless based on how many people lack shelter on a given night. As of January 2014, HUD put the number of homeless people in the U.S. at 578,424.

  2. Which state has the highest homeless population?
    California leads the way with nearly 114,000 homeless individuals, or roughly 20% of the country's homeless population. New York comes in second with more than 80,000 homeless residents.

  3. What state has the lowest homelessness rate?
    As of January 2014, homelessness was least common in Wyoming. The total homeless population in the Equality State totaled 757 people.

  4. What city has the largest homeless population?
    In terms of individual cities, the Big Apple is where you'll find the most people struggling with homelessness. Close to 68,000 New Yorkers were homeless at some point in 2014.

  5. How common is homelessness in rural areas?
    Approximately 7% of the total U.S. homeless population lives in rural areas. The homelessness rate is 14 per 10,000 people, versus 29 for every 10,000 residents living in urban areas.

  6. How many people are chronically homeless?
    According to HUD, chronic homelessness is defined by a period of homelessness lasting a year or more or four episodes of homelessness that occur within a three-year period. There were slightly more than 84,000 people who were considered chronically homeless as of January 2014.

  7. What percentage of the homeless live on the streets?
    HUD makes a distinction between people who are unsheltered and those who are able to take advantage of temporary housing. As of January 2014, 31% of homeless people in the U.S. lacked any type of roof over their heads.

  8. How many homeless people are served by residential shelters?
    During that same period, the remaining 69% of homeless people sought assistance from homeless shelters. Approximately 36% of individuals and 33% of families were sheltered.

  9. How have homelessness trends changed over time?
    One positive statistic shows that homelessness overall is declining in the U.S. Since 2010, the homeless rate has decreased by 10% (or about 62,000 people).


For the next part of our research, we decided to take a closer look at how homeless people in the U.S. compare demographically. Specifically, we focused on families, veterans, and senior citizens.

  1. How many individuals are homeless?
    Individuals make up the largest share of the homeless population in the U.S., with more than 362,000 people lacking shelter on an average night. That adds up to 63% of the nation's homeless overall.

  2. How many senior citizens are homeless?
    Adults over the age of 62 make up a growing percentage of the homeless population. An estimated 44,000 seniors were homeless as of 2015, and that number is expected to increase to 95,000 by 2050.

  3. How many homeless veterans are there?
    The number of homeless veterans is on the decline, but just over 49,000 vets go without adequate shelter in a single night. Approximately 10% of all homeless veterans are female.

  4. How many families are homeless?
    According to the HUD data, more than 67,000 families spent at least one night on the streets in January 2014. Approximately 7% of homeless people living as part of a family unit were chronically homeless.

  5. How large is the average homeless family?
    Homeless families tend to be on the small side, with the average household totaling 3 people. Children under the age of 18 represent close to 60% of individuals in homeless families.


Homelessness can have a profound effect on children, particularly in terms of their health and future economic outlook. We've included some of the most eye-opening data on homeless children and youth in the U.S.

  1. How many children are homeless on any given day?
    As of January 2014, HUD estimated that there were more than 194,000 children and young adults living on the streets each day. That figure represents more than a third of the total number of Americans who are homeless on an individual day.

  2. Which age group reports the highest homelessness rate?
    Children under the age of 18 account for the largest share of homeless youth, totaling nearly 136,000 kids. Young adults aged 18 to 24 make up 86% of the homeless population that's not accompanied by an adult.

  3. How many runaways end up on the streets?
    It's estimated that as many as 1.7 million children and young adults run away from home each year. Roughly a third of them experience a period of homelessness lasting one week or longer.

  4. How many school-age children are homeless?
    According to the U.S. Department of Education, there were nearly 1.3 million homeless students enrolled in public schools nationwide during the 2012-13 school year. Around 3%, or 41,000 students, were completely unsheltered.


Homelessness isn't just a problem in the U.S., and we didn't want to wrap up our study without taking a broader view. Here you'll find some key statistics on global homelessness that put the scope of the issue in perspective.

  1. How many people are homeless worldwide?
    According to Habitat for Humanity, the global number of the homeless adds up to 100 million people. About 1 in 4 people live in conditions that are harmful to their health, safety, prosperity, and economic opportunities.

  2. How many people have inadequate shelter?
    Habitat for Humanity estimates that there are another 1.6 billion people living in inadequate shelters around the world. About 1 billion of them reside in informal settlements such as the ones found near major cities like Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro.

  3. Which city boasts the lowest homeless rate?
    Surprisingly, the world's largest city is the one that reports the smallest proportion of homeless. As of October 2014, the number of homeless people in Tokyo dropped to just 1,697, which represents a miniscule fraction of the 13.35 million people who call the city home.

  4. How many homeless have refugee status?
    According to the most recent estimates from the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 51 million people were displaced from their homes at the end of 2013 because of civil unrest, religious persecution, or human rights violations. Approximately 17 million of them are considered refugees.

  5. What percentage of the global population lives below the poverty line?
    The World Bank sets the global poverty level at $1.25 per day. It's estimated that 17% of the population in developing countries, or just over 1 billion people, live on $1.25 or less on a daily basis.


Overall, the numbers paint a pretty dismal picture of homelessness. There is something of a silver lining, however, since the research indicates that it's becoming less common.

Sources and Additional References:

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

More from CreditDonkey:

Big House, Little House

Middle Class House

Why Renting is Better

Infographic: Compound Interest

Save Money or Pay Off Debt

Leave a comment about Homeless Statistics: 23 Facts to Know Before You Sleep Tonight?

Email (won't be published)

How to Make an Extra $1000 a Month

There are plenty of creative ways to make an extra $1,000/month from home. Read this guide to find which side hustles pay the most and how to get started.

About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.

About Us | Reviews | Deals | Tips | Privacy | Terms | Contact Us
© 2020 CreditDonkey