States With the Most Unsheltered Homeless People

In the U.S., marginalized populations carry a disproportionately large burden of coronavirus infections and deaths. For a variety of reasons, including lack of access to health infrastructure, greater incidence of chronic disease and other preconditions, lower likelihood of remote work options, as well as often more crowded living conditions, poorer areas have consistently reported far greater COVID-19 infection and death rates than more affluent areas. And few marginalized groups are more vulnerable than those struggling with homelessness. The problem is likely only to worsen during the winter months. 

The pandemic adds challenges to the work of ameliorating homelessness. Not only is the virus likely to spread more easily among clients, staff, and volunteers in shared spaces such as homeless shelters, but also many people experiencing homelessness are older or have underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

Based on the latest estimates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 567,715 people experiencing homelessness across the United States in a single day in late January 2019, compared to 552,830 people during the same day in 2018. 

The HUD delivers to Congress annual estimates of homelessness across the nation. The estimates show a great deal of variation in homelessness across the country. Given the economic and health consequences from the pandemic for communities across the U.S., the assessment of the nation’s homelessness problem is not likely to improve for some time.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of each state’s unsheltered homeless population out of the total homeless population. Nationwide, approximately two-thirds of homeless people were staying in sheltered locations, such as emergency shelters and different government housing programs. Meanwhile, one-third of homeless people lived on the street, in abandoned buildings, or other unsheltered places.

Click here to see the states with the most unsheltered homeless people.
Click here to see our methodology.

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