Special Report

States With the Most Unsheltered Homeless People

An estimated 582,462 people experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2022, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency notes that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could have led to a far higher number, but with government outreach and programs to prevent eviction through rental assistance, the national homelessness rate rose only by 0.3% from 2020 to 2022. 

Overall homelessness declined by 8.6%, or by 54,615, since 2010, but more persons experience unsheltered homelessness. Two out of every five people currently without a home were living in an unsheltered setting, with the number of unsheltered homeless persons increasing by 3.4% from 2020 to 233,832 in 2022. As HUD points out, the rise in unsheltered homelessness outpaced the decrease in sheltered homeless persons. (See the state where the most people live below the poverty line.)

One bright spot is the drop in the population of homeless veterans, which decreased by 11% to 33,129 between 2020 and 2022. Since 2010, the number of homeless former military servicemembers declined by 55.3%, with 40,958 fewer homeless vets. (Here are the best cities for veterans.)

The homeless population varies by state. To identify the states with the most unsheltered homeless people, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the unsheltered homeless population from the Office of Policy Development and Research. States are ranked on the number of unsheltered homeless persons in 2022. The report outlines the key findings of the point-in-time count and housing inventory count conducted in January 2022 on a national and state level. The number of homeless persons per 10,000 state residents were rounded up

California’s overall homelessness grew by nearly 200% between 2021 and 2022, reaching a total of 171,521 people, or 44 in every 10,000 people – the highest in the nation. Roughly 67% of homeless persons in the Golden State are not living in shelters.

In August of last year, HUD announced plans to fund homeless service organizations to the tune of $2.8 billion. The grants will be awarded by HUD’s Continuum of Care Program, the largest federal source of monies for homeless services and housing. Some 400 Continuum of Care communities apply for the grants each year, with the program funding about 7,000 homeless service projects annually.

Correction: A previous version of this story indicated that states were ranked on the percentage of homeless persons who were unsheltered. In fact, it is ranked on the total number of unsheltered homeless. 

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

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