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The State of Homelessness in the US – 2021

Here are some talking points that you can share with your supporters.

No person should be homeless if you have public structures and public policies that allow people to have homes, food, and lead a dignified life in the US. Unfortunately, homelessness statistics reveal that there is still a lot of work to be done.

At the moment, there is a lot of talk about the social and geographic disparity, the leading causes of homelessness, the current trends, and the homeless assistance that is available in North America. However, before we can do any of this, it’s extremely helpful to know the exact scope of homelessness in the US.

How Many Homeless People Are There in America?

Homelessness is not a novelty in the US. It’s become a source of concern as early as the 19th century as urbanization projects exposed those most vulnerable. However, keeping track of the US homeless rate is only a recent process.

Approximately 17 people per 10,000 experience homelessness each day.
(HUD Exchange)

Perhaps not the best figure when looking at the bigger picture. However, when you translate these into overall numbers, things begin to look a lot different.

The number of homeless in the US is estimated at 552,830.
(Whitehouse)

With around half a million individuals living in a state of homelessness, things are not looking great. Still, on the bright side, it is a small percentage compared to the overall US population — which counts over 327.2 million.

Percentage-wise: 0.2% of the American population lives in a state of homelessness.
(Whitehouse)

While the low percentages don’t make the fact any less serious, in the grand scheme of things, these figures show that the US homeless problem could be managed adequately with some proper structures in place. Though, monitoring the exact number of the homeless population in the US is no easy task. Seeing how there are no fool-proof ways of identifying them, there could be even more of them on the streets.

Every year, roughly 13,000 homeless people die in the US.
(National Homeless)

Approximately 2.4% of homeless persons die every year — about 13,000 out of half a million. When you think about it, homelessness is a significant health risk for individuals. Having a roof above your head becomes a matter of life and death, according to homeless statistics.

Homeless people have an average life expectancy of just 50 years.
(National Homeless)

In a country where an increasing number of people are becoming centenarians, it is evident that homelessness is still a long way from that — if not medieval. Plus, aside from the rough living conditions, a lot of people who become homeless already struggle with various health issues.

Stats on homeless demographics reveal: age disparities are a common occurrence on the street — only 15.6% of homeless are aged 51–61.
(National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty)

When you consider that living in a state of homelessness can put your health at risk, it’s easy to understand why less than 16% of the homeless are aged 50–60. Many adults can’t find the support they need to recover from dramatic life changes after their 50s, in terms of unemployment, health costs, or even divorce. But, more importantly, long-term homeless individuals face extreme challenges to stay healthy in their old age.

Only 3.2% of homeless individuals are aged 62 or more, according to statistics on homelessness.
(National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty)

Indeed, their rough living situation makes it almost impossible for homeless people to experience old age. Homeless persons tend to be older individuals who, for health or income reasons, find themselves without a home.

Over 70% of homeless persons are young adults below the age of 50.
(National Law Center on Homeless & Poverty)

As terrifying as it sounds, homelessness is more likely to affect people aged 24–50; hence, the homeless population is comparatively younger than the total US population. This means two things. Firstly, with the appropriate support, these individuals could rebuild their lives. Secondly, prolonged exposure to rough living conditions on the street will aggravate health problems and reduce the percentage of seniors among the homeless.

40% of all homeless men are veterans.
(PBS)

An army career is one of the most significant factors of homelessness in men. It’s a testimony to the failure of the government to establish supportive structures for people who join the military forces.

8% of homeless veterans are women.
(AHAR)

The current percentage of women veterans is a little over 8%, making their representation in the homeless population a one-to-one translation. While it doesn’t seem that gender discrimination is affecting this particular veteran demographic, it highlights the need for more support and programs to help these people integrate back into society once they are done with their line of duty.

You can read more here.