The scope of Homelessness in the United States

On a single night in January 2018, there were 553,742 people experiencing homelessness in the United States; 65%  were sheltered individuals and 35%  were unsheltered individuals.

  • 20% of those experiencing homelessness (114,829 individuals) were children under the age of 18.
  • 10% (53,438 individuals) were between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • Of the 168,257 youth (people under 24), 40,799 were unaccompanied. 12% (4,800) of unaccompanied youth were minors under the age of 18.
    • “Unaccompanied youth were more likely to be unsheltered (55%) than both all people experiencing homelessness (35%) and all people experiencing homelessness as individuals (48%).”
  • 70% (385,475) were 25 years old or older.
  • Two-thirds of those experiencing homelessness were individuals, while one third identified as a member of a family experiencing homelessness.
  • 24% of individuals (86,962) and 5% of people in families (8,457) met the definition of chronically homeless.*
    • Chronic homelessness among individuals increased by 12% from 2016 but has declined overall by 27% (32,851) since 2007.
    •  Nearly one-quarter of individuals experiencing homelessness had chronic patterns of homelessness (86,962).
    • 70% of chronically homeless individuals were unsheltered, while only 48% of all individuals experiencing homelessness were unsheltered.
    • California accounted for more than half of the nation’s unsheltered chronically homeless individuals (53%).
  • 40,056 veterans were experiencing homelessness in the US (9% of all homeless adults), of which less than 10% were women.
    • Since 2009, the number of homeless veterans has decreased by 45% (33,311).
  • Homelessness nationally increased by 0.7% between 2016 and 2017, accounted for by a 9% increase in unsheltered homeless individuals and a 3% decrease in sheltered homeless individuals. Since 2007, homelessness has declined overall by 14%.


Communities across the country respond to homelessness with a variety of housing and services programs, including emergency shelters, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing. 

Over the last decade, a shift has occurred in homeless assistance, placing a greater emphasis on permanent housing solutions (such as permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing) and less emphasis on transitional housing programs. Permanent housing interventions account for about half of the beds in the U.S. overall (52.8 percent).


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