- Homelessness is a tragedy that strikes thousands of Americans every year.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes annual estimates of the homeless population in the US and in each state.
- As the above map shows, homelessness rates were very high on the West Coast, in the Northeast, and in Hawaii and Alaska.
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Homelessness is a tragedy that strikes thousands of Americans every year. As we move into the winter months, nights are getting colder, and it’s increasingly dangerous for people without access to shelter.
Every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes a report to Congress on the state of the homeless population in the US. One of the core elements of the report is a “point in time estimate,” or an annual count of the homeless population across the country taken on a single night in late January.
The above map shows the number of homeless people in the HUD’s count in January 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, per 10,000 residents of each state in that year.
The report noted that there were about 553,000 homeless people nationwide in the January 2018 count, slightly up from the 2017 count but much lower than the estimate a decade earlier of about 640,000 in 2008.
HUD said that about 2/3 of the homeless population in 2018 was staying in a formal shelter, with the remaining third being unsheltered and out in the street or somewhere else “not suitable for human habitation.”
As the map above shows, rates of homelessness varied widely across the country. The report noted that both California and New York had both high numbers of homeless people — 129,972 and 91,897, respectively — and high rates of homelessness per capita. While the populous states of Texas and Florida had high numbers of homeless people, their per capita rates were below average, according to the report.
Different cities have taken various steps to address homelessness. In Austin, Texas, a non-profit built a village of tiny homes to provide homeless residents a place to live.
Other municipalities have taken a more hostile approach to their homeless populations. West Palm Beach, Florida, began playing children’s songs like “Baby Shark” at a loud volume in public parks at night to deter homeless people from sleeping there.
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