20% of Nation's Homeless Are in California

The Department of Housing and Urban Development put out a sobering report about the status of homeless people in the United States. Although the count of the homeless dropped 10% from 2013, according to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, some states still have large numbers of homeless individuals, led by California.

The authors of the report point out:

  • In January 2014, 578,424 people were homeless on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations.
  • Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). Ten percent (or 58,601) were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 66 percent (or 384,122) were 25 years or older.
  • Homelessness declined by 2 percent (or 13,344 people) between 2013 and 2014 and by 11 percent (or 72,718) since 2007.

The 11% fall is almost certainly due to the recession.

The state concentration makes sense because it matches state population:

  • California accounted for 20 percent of the nation’s homeless population in 2014.
  • Half of the homeless population in the United States was in five states: CA (20% or 113,952 people), NY (14% or 80,590 people), FL (7% or 41,542 people), TX (5% or 28,495 people), and MA (4% or 21,237 people).

However, the swing among states was substantial:

  • Between 2013 and 2014, 14 states plus D.C. experienced increases in homelessness. New York experienced the largest increase (3,160 more people), followed by Massachusetts (2,208).
  • Homelessness decreased in 36 states between 2013 and 2014. The largest decreases were in Florida (6,320 fewer people) and California (4,600). Other states with large declines over the past year were: OR (1,658 fewer people), SC (1,487), and MO (1,299).

The situation was not terribly different when viewed over a longer period:

  • Between 2007 and 2014, homelessness increased in 19 states plus D.C. New York had the largest increase with 17,989 more people, a 29 percent rise. However, in percentage terms, the increases in Massachusetts and D.C. were greater.
  • Homelessness declined in 31 states between 2007 and 2014. California experienced the largest decline in the number of people experiencing homelessness, 25,034 fewer since 2007. Other states with large declines included Texas (11,293 fewer people), Florida (6,527), New Jersey (5,643), and Oregon (5,426).

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