Homeless man sleeping on public bench

Homelessness in the US: 7 Shocking Stats

Do you know how many people are homeless in your city? Maybe you don’t know the exact number, but you certainly know some familiar faces. That older man who sleeps under the bus shelter, covering himself with cardboard for protection at night… or the woman in the park collecting bottles and cans for the few dollars she lives on a day.

These homeless neighbors always seem to be there. Is the state of homelessness in your city, or even in the U.S., really changing?

The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, released in December 2018 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), shared some shocking statistics. We’ve narrowed this 100-page report down to 7 key findings to help us all understand – and better address – this huge need in our nation.

1) Approximately 553,000 people are homeless in the U.S. And of those, 35% live in “unsheltered locations,” like abandoned buildings, tents or on the street. Remember our friend sleeping under the bus shelter? Sadly, he’s just one of many. Yet, the majority of people who are homeless have been so for less than a year. They’re not chronically homeless… They’re new to this! But rising costs have forced thousands of struggling Americans to make a terrible choice – to pay rent or put their money toward food they and their families need.
2) 51% of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness live in unsheltered locations. While our mental image of a homeless person is often an older, wearied man, a significant number of homeless Americans under age 25 are alone and simply trying to survive. Many have become homeless due to instability at home, aging out of the foster system or difficulty finding stable work and affordable housing in today’s economy, among other reasons.

3) African Americans represent 40% of the homeless population – though making up just 13% of the U.S. population on the whole. This severe overrepresentation has got to change.

4) In 2018, nearly 4,000 people were homeless in shelters due to national disasters (Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate; western wildfires, etc.). Most people don’t choose to be homeless. Difficult circumstances outside their control, like these events in recent years, have left many Americans with nowhere to go.

5) The majority of homeless people in unsheltered locations live in the nation’s 50 largest cities. Homelessness is a serious issue anywhere, but big cities continue to face the challenge of addressing the growing need. In 2018, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle were major cities with the 3 largest homeless populations. Lack of affordable housing in these metropolises – coupled with the draw of more shelters, churches and organizations in big cities with services to help homeless individuals – may explain the increase.


6) In 2018, homelessness declined among people in families with children and also among veterans, showing significant strides being made to help these vulnerable populations.

7) Although in 2018 homelessness increased for the second year in a row, this number is down 11% from 2007 – and that means progress toward our goal of preventing and reducing homelessness in the U.S.


Change is only possible when we become aware of the need. Help inform others of the TRUE state of homelessness in the U.S. Share these stats with your community by sending our editable press release to your local media.

Get your press release to share here!

We have more steps to take as a nation to make sure homeless Americans receive the help they need. But thankfully, faith-first organizations like your local Rescue Mission are leading the way. At Brewer Direct, we believe “the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy” (Psalm 140:12). And we believe Rescue Missions are an important way God does it!

Read more good news! Check out our Brewer blog for more on faith-first nonprofits and fundraising strategies that really make a difference.

More fuel for more impact.

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